OGDEN -- The defense has filed a motion to keep a jury from hearing the horrific 22-minute 911 call for the fatal Pineview boating accident now set for trial.
The call records the last minutes of Esther Fujimoto's life after she was struck by a powerboat while swimming at the reservoir Aug. 21, 2011.
Skyler Shepherd, 22, Colton Raines, 22, and Robert Cole Boyer, 29, are accused in the death, all three charged with class A misdemeanor obstruction of justice.
Raines and Shepherd also are charged with class A misdemeanor reckless endangerment and class B misdemeanor failure to render aid.
The men are accused of first unwittingly running over Fujimoto, then intentionally driving off to leave her bleeding to death in the water.
Trial was set for three days in December after a hearing Monday in which defense lawyers for the three men announced in 2nd District Court a series of motions to fight the case. Expected are bids for separate trials and to limit certain testimony of prosecution witnesses, called "motions in limine."
And Shepherd's lawyer, Glen Neeley, formally filed a motion to suppress the tape of Donald Vaughn Anderson's frenzied call to 911 from his rowboat as he held the dying Fujimoto, waiting for rescuers.
The 911 tape was played for the first time to a stunned and crowded courtroom at the July 19 preliminary hearing for the defendants. Anderson held the phone in one hand while the other kept Fujimoto afloat as her blood stained the water in amounts the state medical examiner testified would have resembled a shark attack. Anderson couldn't pull her into his small rowboat without capsizing.
Anderson is heard giving directions for emergency crews to find him and Fujimoto, his voice breaking as he screams at Fujimoto, "Don't leave me ... no!" The intensity of the emotion in the 22-minute tape included him obviously in tears telling the dispatcher, "Her mouth is moving. She opened her mouth," as the dispatcher kept saying, "Keep her head above water for me."
"The tape is extremely emotionally charged, with yelling, screaming, crying and wailing," Neeley argues in the suppression motion. "The prejudicial effect of the (call) substantially outweighs its probative value."
The same information can be admitted at trial by putting Anderson on the stand "without the same risk of prejudicial effect," according to the motion. Oral arguments are set for Sept. 21 before Judge Ernie Jones.
Neeley has also filed a motion to exclude from the upcoming trial the bloody crime-scene photographs of Fujimoto's body.
"The photos graphically display Ms. Fujimoto's intestines protruding from her abdomen," according to the court papers, as well as deep lacerations to the rest of her lower torso and legs.
"The photographs are not necessary to establish the fact of Fujimoto's death," according to the motion, making them irrelevant with no issue of fact to resolve.
"They evoke a substantial emotional reaction which includes horror and repulsion ... with no substantial probative value which outweighs the unfair prejudice which arises from the gruesome nature of the photographs."
Fujimoto, 49, was a molecular biologist at the University of Utah. The official cause of death was massive blood loss as a result of cuts from propeller blades to her lower body.