Police initially ruled 49-year-old Uta von Schwedler's death a suicide

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 09, 2015 08:55 AM
Advertisement
Credit: AP (2)

Pelle Wall spent nearly his entire inheritance from his dead mother campaigning to get her murderer, his own father, behind bars. And on Wednesday, he finally succeeded when former pediatrician John Brickman Wall was sentenced to 15 years to life for her death.

Uta von Schwedler, a prominent cancer researcher, was found dead in a bathtub in her Sugar House, Utah, home on Sept. 27, 2011. Initially, police ruled the death as a suicide, but Pelle, now 21, insisted that she showed no signs of wanting to end her life.

Authorities opened an investigation and eventually Wall, 51, was arrested for his ex-wife’s murder more than a year after her death.

Prosecutors painted an ugly picture of Wall, who they say attacked his ex with a knife, dosed her with Xanax and then drowned her in a bathtub because he saw her as an “obstacle” to gaining custody of his children. He denied any involvement in her death, pleading not guilty to the charges against him.

As he was sentenced Wednesday, Wall continued to maintain his innocence, telling the judge, “I did not kill Uta. I am innocent of this crime.”

Pelle, the oldest of four siblings, wasn’t surprised by his father’s denials. “I think he’s convinced himself of an alternate reality, so it honestly doesn’t surprise me,” he said, KSL reports. “It’s still very, very sad and I hope at some point he does reconsider. But at this point it’s not super surprising.”

Wall said he would appeal his conviction, adding, “My children are always in my thoughts and prayers. Now I am left with only their memories and the time we spent together as a family.”

Though the years of legal proceedings have cost Pelle Wall “an enormous amount of money,” he felt it was his duty to protect his younger siblings from their father. “Their lives are worth infinitely more than a couple hundred thousand dollars,” he told 48 Hours in 2014.

In court Wednesday, Pelle condemned his father’s refusal to admit his guilt. “Besides the crime itself, placing yourself as the victim of a crime that you perpetrated, to me, I cannot reconcile that. That is beyond me. As I said, I think it is super disrespectful to the true victims. I can’t reconcile it,” he said.

And to Pelle, his father’s kind words about his children were empty. “I don’t know, maybe he does have those feelings, maybe not. I don’t know how he could have committed such a crime with any of his children in mind,” he said.

He added: “It’s good to finally reach this day. This is something we’ve been working for for years and years.”

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.