Question: So Which Profession Kills More Wives? You Tell Us

Utah Doctor Who Murdered His Wife Seeks Sentencing Delay

Dr John Brickman Wall
Dr John Brickman Wall

In Salt Lake City the lawyers representing a 51-year-old doctor found guilty of killing his ex-wife, have asked a 3rd District Court judge to delay his prison sentencing.

Doctor John Brickman Wall was expected to be sentenced last week for the death of Uta von Schwedler, whom police found dead in the overflowing bathtub of her home in 2011. The victim, age 49, was found with a lethal amount of Xanax in her system and a water-soaked photo album in the tub with her.

It took the three-woman, five-man jury seven hours to determine what the pathologist in the case could not – that Wall’s former wife did not commit suicide. Wall was arrested a year and a half after the body of his ex-wife was discovered.

Dr Uta von Schwedler
Dr Uta von Schwedler


The case against Wall, a pediatrician, was largely circumstantial. But Salt Lake County Deputy District Attorney Nicholas D’Alesandro convinced the jury that if they looked at the entire picture, they would see that Wall was guilty beyond any reasonable doubt in the killing of the University of Utah researcher.

Co-prosecutor Matthew Janzen focused on the trail of bloody shoe prints found in the victim’s kitchen, and other blood that had been partially cleaned up, which in the case of a suicide, he stressed, would make no sense.

In Janzen’s words, “The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.”

The doctor was convicted in a jury trial last month of First Degree Murder.

According to court records, the county medical examiner was initially unable to determine von Schwedler’s cause of death. There was some question as to whether she might have committed suicide. But numerous family members and friends persuaded investigators to look deeper into the case. They pointed to Wall and the couple’s angry relationship, which continued years after their divorce.

Prosecutors argued that on Sept. 27, 2011, Wall injected von Schwedler with Xanax while she was asleep, then sat on her chest until she was unconscious. They believe he then placed her in the bathtub and filled it with water until she drowned. Von Schwedler was a very well-liked cancer scientist at the University of Utah with no signs of suicidal tendencies, and she had no prescription for Xanax.

In the weeks leading up to von Schwedler’s death, the couple had repeatedly argued over custody of their children.

Defense attorney Fred Metos asked that the sentencing be delayed until June in order to file several legal motions.

Here’s another view of this case:

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