SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A scathing ruling by the federal court of appeals will allow an innocent man to continue his lawsuit against a former Utah County prosecutor.
It’s the latest chapter of Conrad Truman’s effort to right a wrong.
Truman was charged with the 2012 murder of his wife Heidy at their Orem home. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. But the judge ordered a new trial after defense attorneys learned crime scene evidence was measured inaccurately.
The medical examiner originally determined the manner of death was “undetermined” but later changed it to homicide after receiving the inaccurate measurements of the hallway in the home. After the defense raised issues about the inaccurate measurements the judge ordered a new trial claiming “had the accurate dimensions been presented to the jury a different result may have resulted.”
Based on the new measurements the jury in the 2017 trial found Truman innocent of the charges. The medical examiner did not testify in the second trial.
“We’re just really grateful to the jury and to our attorneys particularly for the phenomenal job they did exposing the true facts, which we knew would set him free,” said Colette Dahl following the 2017 acquittal.
Then a bombshell. Truman filed a civil lawsuit against the deputy Utah County attorney and Orem police. The deputy county attorney Craig Johnson was accused of knowingly falsifying the crime scene evidence and presenting it to the jury.
“We believe we had a very clear case that the prosecutor participated in the fabrication of evidence against our client,” said Mark Moffat, Truman’s attorney. “And (he) used that fabricated evidence against our client in a trial that resulted in his conviction.”
Last week, the 10th circuit court of appeals “reversed” a Utah federal judge’s decision to throw out the lawsuit against the prosecutor, but “affirmed” Orem police are protected under the government’s qualified immunity statute.
“The fact that the 10th circuit has now opened the door for our lawsuit against the prosecutor for his incarceration, is very welcome to us,” said Moffat.
In its ruling, the 10th circuit also claimed the allegations “shock the conscience” that a prosecutor would knowingly falsify evidence and present it as fact.
A former prosecutor said this is unheard of in Utah.
“To have a prosecutor change his case and say these are the facts, expert witnesses you should consider, knowing those facts to be false, no you’re not immune to that nor should you be,” said Kent Morgan.
The ruling resurrects Truman’s lawsuit, but only against Johnson. He was replaced for the second trial but continued his employment at the Utah county attorney’s office. Last year, Johnson and two other prosecutors were dismissed after receiving free tickets from a defense attorney to attend Utah Jazz game.
Johnson, who is now a defense attorney in Utah County, refused to comment about this latest ruling.