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Sammy Jo Hester, Pool, File

Orem man exonerated of killing wife sues police, prosecutors

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Jul. 13, 2017 at 4:43 p.m.


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PROVO — An Orem man once convicted and later exonerated of killing his wife after nearly four years behind bars is suing the police and prosecutors who investigated the case.

In a 152-page civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday, Conrad Truman, 35, claims law enforcement in Orem arrested, investigated and incarcerated him based on "misleading, false and outright fabricated evidence" alleging that he murdered his wife, Heidy Truman, 25, and then lied to police about killing her.

Truman is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, including violation of his constitutional rights, emotional distress, suffering, humiliation and other financial losses.

Truman was acquitted in February when the charges were put before a jury a second time.

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

Truman's lawsuit alleges that multiple police officers, who had been in the Truman home numerous times throughout the investigation, should have realized that measurements of the scene — listed in police reports as 13.9 feet rather than 139 inches — were incorrect, but that the flawed information was presented at trial, regardless.

Following the first jury trial, Truman was sentenced to serve 15 years to life in prison in February 2015. When his conviction was overturned, 4th District Judge Samuel McVey declined to reduce Truman's $1 million bail and he remained in custody until he was exonerated earlier this year.

Truman's lawsuit details a meticulous and lengthy timeline of the couple's evening together, the moment Heidy was shot, and the response from police arriving at the scene. According to the appeal, officers immediately began questioning Truman within feet of his dying wife and then proceeded to "unconstitutionally detain and question" him for 50 minutes once she was taken away by paramedics.

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The couple had been home watching television and drinking whiskey on Sept. 30, 2012, the night that Heidy died. At one point the couple bickered, according to Truman, though not about anything consequential. Police responded to a frantic 911 call from Truman, who leveled threats against arriving police and first responders if they didn't save his wife.

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

According to the lawsuit, police recordings show that officers kept Truman in a scene that was "bloody," "gruesome" and "chaotic," denying Truman's repeated pleas to go to his wife in the hospital or to have his hands tested for gunshot residue to prove he didn't shoot her. Instead, the lawsuit asserts, police instructed Truman to go wash his bloody hands, destroying potentially exculpatory evidence.

Truman also claims his requests to contact an attorney or members of his family were ignored.

The lawsuit also details a flip-flop by deputy medical examiner Edward Leis, who initially ruled the manner of Heidy Truman's death to be "undetermined," then later amended it to be a "homicide" following a lengthy presentation by police and prosecutors who were preparing to file charges against Truman.

Presented with corrected crime scene measurements as Truman appealed his conviction, Leis amended Heidy Truman's manner of death a second time in August 2015, again classifying it as "undetermined."

The lawsuit names Orem City and its police department, five Orem police officers and deputy Utah County attorney Craig Johnson, as well as several unknown law enforcement officers and attorneys. According to the lawsuit, no immunity defenses are applicable for the defendants.

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McKenzie Romero

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