Despite a court document indicating otherwise, John Brickman Wall a Salt Lake City pediatrician charged with murder in the 2011 death of his ex-wife is not requesting the appointment of a public defender, his private attorney said Saturday.
"I'm going to be his attorney," said G. Fred Metos. "He is not asking for [a court-appointed lawyer]."
Wall signed a "declaration of indigency" after he was arrested and booked into jail on Thursday. The document was filed in 3rd District Court on Friday.
But Metos told The Tribune on Saturday that while Wall had answered some financial questions asked by Salt Lake County jail personnel, the information was not intended as a request for indigent status.
Wall, 49, is charged with first-degree felony counts of murder and aggravated burglary in the alleged slaying of University of Utah researcher Uta von Schwedler at her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011.
Von Schwedler and John Wall were ensnared in a bitter custody battle following their divorce in 2006.
But Metos took issue with a statement in the charging documents that just prior to her death von Schwedler had "prevailed in a motion against [Wall] related to reconsideration of child custody."
Metos said police and prosecutors are pushing the child custody issue as a motive for the alleged slaying.
But he insisted: "There was no conflict. He [Wall] wasn't losing custody of his kids."
Metos explained that prior to her death, von Schwedler had merely asked for a change in visitation.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Saturday that the couple's child custody issues were "one of the elements we considered" while reviewing the case for potential charges.
"We feel comfortable with the general inference made by that statement [regarding child custody in the charging documents]," Gill added.
Von Schwedler, 49, drowned in the bathtub at her home in the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue (1365 South).
For more than a year, authorities have struggled to determine whether the woman's death was murder or suicide.
But expert analysis of the crime scene revealed a violent struggle and Wall's DNA in the home, which he did not share with his ex-wife, according to charging documents.