Thursday, April 17, 2014

Orem man accused of killing wife threatened police, paramedics, witnesses say

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Dec. 6 5:51 p.m. MST

 Utah Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Edward Leis testifies at Conrad Truman's preliminary hearing in Fourth District Court in Provo, Utah, on Friday, December 6, 2013.

Utah Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Edward Leis testifies at Conrad Truman's preliminary hearing in Fourth District Court in Provo, Utah, on Friday, December 6, 2013.

(Al Hartmann)

PROVO — The victims advocate described a tender scene in a hospital room, a husband who had just lost his wife kissing her head and feet, rubbing her legs and wondering aloud why she would shave her legs when she was planning to kill herself.

But explaining his wife's death as a suicide was only one of many explanations and narratives Conrad Truman offered for Heidy Truman's death, according to a number of witnesses who testified in 4th District Court Friday.

Friday was the first day of a preliminary hearing for the Orem man, 31, who is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Police and prosecutors say he murdered his wife for insurance money.

Orem Police Cpl. William Crook was on patrol the night of Sept. 30, 2012, and was dispatched to 220 S. 1180 West on reports of a shooting. He said he arrived at the home to find Conrad Truman in the doorway, screaming for help, with blood on his hands and some of his clothes.

He followed Truman up a set of stairs to the kitchen and saw a woman lying face down, bleeding due to an apparent gunshot wound. "It was clear (the blood) was coming from her head," he said.

In a 911 call played in court, Truman was sobbing and hysterical, yelling incoherently. Crook described Truman as irate and agitated when they arrived.

"He was yelling," Crook said. "He was yelling to save her, he was yelling at her to stay alive, that sort of thing."

Paramedics arrived and police told Truman to step aside so they could treat Heidy Truman.

"He immediately just became irate, disorderly, threatening, just totally out of the norm," Crook testified. "He threatened to kill me and everybody I know if I didn't save Heidy."

Crook said Truman told him he and his wife had been drinking and got into an argument. Truman said his wife had gone to take a shower and that he had tried to go in but was sent away. He told Crook that he then heard a pop.

"At one point, he did say that he thought a bullet must have come through the wall, through the sheet rock on the outside," Crook said.

Truman said his wife wasn't suicidal or depressed but couldn't offer a clear timeline or explanation of what had happened before she was shot, according to Crook. "Everything he said was just random and out of order — it made no sense."

Two guns were found inside the home, including one that Truman yelled at "like he was mad at the gun" and another that police spotted under a chair Truman was sitting in. Police began to suspect that the woman's death was not a suicide.

"After seeing his demeanor, after seeing the second gun, the way things were playing out, it seemed to me … that it was going to be a crime scene," the corporal said.

Defense attorney Ron Yengich asked Crook if he had training in how various people respond following a traumatic episode, and the officer said he was not trained but knew that everyone responds differently. He also asked if Crook had asked Truman whether he had shot his wife.

The officer conceded that he had not.

Orem Fire Battalion Chief Russ Sneddon said Truman interfered with the care being provided to his wife, "plus the statements he was making was disturbing and of a threatening nature." Sneddon said Truman was the first and only person to threaten to kill him in his 17 years as a paramedic.

He said Heidy Truman was still breathing, though it was "labored," when paramedics arrived around 11 p.m. Dr. Edward Leis, Utah's chief deputy medical examiner, said Heidy Truman's time of death was just after 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2012.

Leis said he determined Heidy Truman was killed due to a gunshot wound to the head and that the manner of death was homicide. But he said he first classified the manner of death as undetermined and changed it to homicide in July 2013, after additional investigation was completed.

The physical evidence alone could have pointed to either a murder or a suicide, but not an accident, Leis said. The gun was apparently fired at a close range.

"The physical findings of the wound were consistent with the (gun) barrel being pressed up to the skin's surface," Leis said.

A toxicology report showed a blood alcohol level of 0.07, but no drugs in Heidy Truman's system.

Orem Police Sgt. Orlando Ruiz said he went to the hospital to interview Conrad Truman and that he asked the man what happened. He also said Truman was difficult to interview, jumping from different statements relating to that night to previous experiences in his life.

"It was all over the place," Ruiz said. "He was quiet then he would get really mad, loud, agitated. Talking to him, he would jump around from subject to subject. (It was) definitely a hard interview to proceed with."

Truman said the couple had watched TV that night and had disagreements about various things, but no real arguments. But Ruiz said Truman also proclaimed that if someone killed his wife, he would kill them and that he couldn't understand if it was a suicide. At one point, Truman also said he wanted to shoot himself.

Heidy Truman's mother, Janet Wagner, testified that her daughter was never suicidal, never even had suicidal thoughts. She said Heidy Truman had just bought a new, expensive car and that they had planned a trip for their birthdays.

Renee Flitton, a victim's advocate in the Orem Department of Public Safety, said Truman told her that his wife had been murdered. He said he had heard someone yelling outside his home prior to the gunshot, and saw a man wandering around and talking to himself.

She said Truman had been jittery when she met him at the couple's home, but she got him calm enough to go to the hospital. When they were walking in, she said Truman took her by the arm and said they needed to "find the killer that shot my wife."

Flitton testified that she was there in the hospital when Truman Conrad hugged his wife's body, told her he loved her and apologized for not protecting her. But minutes later, he asked why his wife would shave her legs before killing herself.

According to charging documents, Truman told his brother-in-law that a black man had entered the house, and he had seen the man run out just before his wife was shot. Later, Truman allegedly said the shooting was accidental and provided several theories of suicide.

"The inaccuracies of Conrad's multiple stories, the claims of Heidy being murdered, and Conrad seeing a black male run out of his home are blatant examples of Conrad's dishonesty," the charges state.

Truman was charged almost nine months after his wife's death.

Police and prosecutors have said money was Truman's "primary motive" in killing his wife. Several life insurance policies had been taken out for Heidy Truman, and, combined with other benefits, he stood to receive $878,767 in the case of his wife's death, despite her $43,000 annual salary, the charges state.

But Truman's family has said the couple were not only happy, but financially secure.

At the end of the hearing, which will continue on Dec. 12, Judge Samuel McVey will determine whether there is enough evidence against Truman to order him to stand trial.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

Recommended
1. JKR
Holladay, UT,
Dec. 7, 2013

Assuming this was a terrible suicide, this case shows why guns should never be open and available in the home. If the guns had been locked up tight or, better, off site, no one would have been killed. Of course, I'm not discounting the possibility that the wife was killed for money. I would like to know more about the defendant's character.

2. Uncle Rico
Sandy, UT,
Dec. 7, 2013

Truman told his brother-in-law that a black man had entered the house, and he had seen the man run out just before his wife was shot.

The race card played once again. Pathetic.