Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
PROVO — In a long and passionate courtroom speech, an unapologetic Conrad Truman maintained his innocence Monday even as he was sentenced to up to life in prison for his wife's murder.
"I'll be fighting this thing until I die if I must, because I did not kill my wife," Truman told the judge, alternately reading from notes he had composed while behind bars or simply "venting" during the 30-minute presentation.
A jury found the Orem man guilty in October of shooting his wife, 25-year-old Heidy Truman, in their home two years ago. Heidy Truman died a day later, Oct. 1, 2012. Police and prosecutors say he murdered his wife for insurance money.
Shackled and in a blue jail jumpsuit, Truman, 33, read the diatribe — which claimed the case against him was built on "middle school rumors" and denying allegations he had abused his wife — despite a warning from his attorney and 4th District Judge Samuel D. McVey.
"I can't say sorry for something I did not do," Conrad Truman said. "I won't say sorry. It's not my fault that she shot herself."
Truman was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder with an additional one-to-15-year sentence for obstructing justice. McVey said it appeared Truman's violent actions were fueled by alcohol.
"We are not here because of a lack of evidence," the judge said. "I would disagree, as a judge. We have a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Heidy Truman died after being shot in the head. Her husband claims they had been at home together watching TV and drinking the night she died, bantering and teasing each other.
He has never shown any remorse. It has always been about him and how sad and how hard it is for him. There is nothing worse than having your child deliberately ripped from you. … It feels good to know that finally the story, the chapter has ended and we can now move forward.
–Janey Wagner, Heidy Truman's mother
Heidy Truman had gone to take a shower when Conrad Truman claimed he heard a popping noise, then found his wife collapsed with a gunshot wound to the head.
Conrad Truman has maintained his innocence from the beginning, telling police at different times that she had shot herself accidentally, speculating on why she may have killed herself, or saying that she had been shot by an intruder.
Police and paramedics testified Conrad Truman was angry and irrational when they arrived at the home, threatening to kill them if they didn't save her life. While they said his behavior was "completely out of the norm," Conrad Truman said Monday that he was traumatized and his reaction was unsurprising in the chaos after his wife's shooting.
"How could a guy calm down (when) presented with these factors?" Conrad Truman said, describing his wife lying bleeding and unconscious on the floor.
The speech also attacked investigators who were at the house the night of the shooting and prosecutors in the case.
"There are so many double standards in this case," he said. "I just want to stand up for myself, your honor. Simply put, this is an injustice, and that's why I'm speaking out."
Prosecutor Craig Johnson argued that "Mr. Truman's lies" warranted consecutive sentences, which the judge granted.
"Mr. Truman is not a saint. He is not a martyr. He is a murderer. Make no mistake, Heidy is the victim of domestic violence homicide," Johnson said Monday.
Conrad Truman also addressed his wife's family, blasting their "propaganda regarding domestic violence" toward Heidy Truman.
"You are making things harder on yourself by blaming me," he said to his former in-laws. "I just don't like being blamed for everybody's problems."
Janey Wagner, Heidy Truman's mother, left the courtroom as her former son-in-law began his speech. She wept after the sentence was handed down, saying it was a bittersweet moment.
"He has never shown any remorse. It has always been about him and how sad and how hard it is for him," Wagner said. "There is nothing worse than having your child deliberately ripped from you. … It feels good to know that finally the story, the chapter has ended and we can now move forward."
The family said they will continue to speak out against domestic violence on behalf of Heidy Truman and in fact had addressed students that morning before the sentencing.
"We will talk to whoever will listen to hopefully save other families from the grief we are experiencing," said Autumn Wagner, Heidy Truman's sister. "It's already been making a difference. We've been able to fundraise quite a bit of money, this rag-tag group of mourning people."
Defense attorney Ron Yengich asked the judge to temper what he heard from Conrad Truman's impassioned speech as a reaction to the turmoil and criticism he faced following his wife's death and throughout the trial.
Conrad Truman and his family intend to appeal the guilty verdict, Yengich said Monday.
"I loved Heidy so much. If I had killed her, I would admit it and face the consequences. I don't understand why anybody doesn't realize that," Conrad Truman said.
Contributing: Sam Penrod