Jury deliberating whether Orem man killed his wife in 2012

Jury deliberating whether Orem man killed his wife in 2012

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News, File)

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PROVO — For the second time, an Orem man is waiting while a jury deliberates whether he killed his wife or she somehow shot herself.

Prosecutors described Thursday how Conrad Truman's temper and disregard for his wife's privacy led him to barge drunk and angry through a locked bathroom door, triggering a confrontation that turned deadly.

The Orem man's attorney explained Truman's erratic and hostile response to police and first responders as deep trauma from witnessing his wife take her own life.

But in closing arguments Thursday, both sides agreed it likely will never be known for sure what happened on the night Heidy Truman, 25, died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Truman, now 35, is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

A jury convicted Truman in 2014 of killing his wife in their Orem home. He maintained throughout the trial and at his sentencing that he was innocent. The conviction was overturned in August after Truman claimed inaccurate crime scene evidence taken by police influenced the verdict.

The couple had been home watching television and drinking whiskey on Sept. 30, 2012. At one point the couple bickered, according to Truman, though not about anything consequential. Police responded to a frantic 911 call from Truman just before 11 p.m.

Heidy Truman died from a single gunshot wound to the head. While Truman insists he heard a popping noise that night before rushing down the hallway to see his wife collapse from a self-inflicted gunshot, her family claims she was a tragic victim of domestic violence.

Utah County deputy attorney Tim Taylor highlighted Truman's shifting accounts of what he heard when the gun went off and his wife's reaction, saying his descriptions of Heidy Truman briefly walking or standing or stumbling after she shot herself defy the laws of gravity, of nature and of medical science.

Taylor replayed recordings of Truman presented during the trial and asked jurors to consider his reaction that night — profane, violent and distraught — saying his aggression toward police showed the extent of his "intoxicated rage."


"We know he was violent when he drank that night," Taylor said. "If the defendant could threaten complete strangers with violence, I think we've seen a glimpse of how he treated his own wife."

Taylor then suggested Truman has downplayed the spat with his wife that night, theorizing it was actually an argument that left Heidy Truman fearful, taking her handgun into the bathroom where she retreated for privacy and hiding its case under a dog bed where police later found it.

That's when Truman picks the lock and bursts in, Taylor speculated, suggesting Truman was a controlling husband who didn't respect his wife's privacy.

"One thing is painfully clear. When Conrad Truman drinks hard liquor, he can become a mean and extremely violent drunk," Taylor said, continuing to suggest that Truman then dragged his wife into the hallway and pressed the gun to her head.

"With his blood boiling and a wife that's disrespecting him, he pulls the trigger. That man just executed his wife," Taylor finished.

But Mark Moffat, Truman's attorney, offered his own scenario describing how Heidy Truman could have killed herself, emphasizing that the numerous unknowns surrounding the shooting show there is reasonable doubt her husband was responsible.

Moffat reiterated expert testimony from the trial suggesting that Heidy Truman's life was dotted with risk factors for suicide in a moment of despair, especially the fact that the couple kept loaded guns in the house.

"As long as suicide is a real possibility in this case, that's reasonable doubt," Moffat said.

Moffat also called into question several aspects of the police inquiry into the shooting, including the errors that led to Truman's first conviction being overturned, saying the investigation cannot be trusted.

"You can't trust anything with this kind of nonsense going on," Moffat said.

He cited the medical examiner's decision to reclassify the manner of Heidy Truman's death from "unknown" to "homicide" under police pressure, then back to "unknown" when presented with evidence from the defense; erroneous measurements in the home; incorrect assertions by investigators that the couple was struggling financially; gunshot residue on Heidy Truman's hands; and the fact that police instructed Truman to wash the blood from his hands before evidence could be collected.

The defense attorney asserted the Trumans were truly a couple in love, explaining Truman's threats and aggression toward police as a defense mechanism and a way to deal with a situation completely out of his control.

From the moment they arrived at the home and found Conrad Truman traumatized beside himself with grief, Moffat said, police launched a "goal-oriented investigation," single-mindedly pursuing their theory he had murdered his wife.

"There is no other way to describe what happened to the investigation in this case. This was a rush to judgment," Moffat said. "In a rush to judgment, people that are innocent end up convicted. I'm going to ask that you not let that happen here."

The four-man, four-woman jury, which has listened to the case for the past three weeks, began deliberations about 12:50 p.m. Thursday. After a little more than two hours, jurors indicated they would return Friday morning to consider the case.

Truman remains in custody in Utah State Prison on $1 million bail

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McKenzie Romero


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