OGDEN -- The jury Thursday saw Skyler Shepherd's array of denials in his video interview with a Weber County sheriff's detective.
The interview was taped nine days after Shepherd's boat ran over swimmer Esther Fujimoto. The woman bled to death within 20 minutes, according to testimony.
Shepherd, 22, is charged with reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice and leaving the scene of an accident in the Aug. 21, 2011, fatality. Two co-defendants face trial in February, all the accusations tied not to the boat hitting the University of Utah researcher, but what happened afterward.
Shepherd, accompanied by his attorney, is seen in the video interview sticking to his story that he didn't know Fujimoto's legs were nearly severed when he left her in the water in Pineview Reservoir.
On the tape, Shepherd says he didn't see the brutal propeller injuries to Fujimoto's lower torso and legs. He had taken the wheel from friend Colton Raines, who had stopped the boat after swerving when he saw Fujimoto in the water. Shepherd then circled back to Fujimoto.
Shepherd claims in the tape they weren't sure if they hit her until they saw on TV news the next day that she had died.
"It was dark, dark enough that it's a pain in the ass to put your boat in a trailer," Shepherd said in the interview with Detective Don Kelly.
He said he twice asked Fujimoto if she was all right, and she responded with a gasping "yeah" and something of a groan, seemingly angry rather than injured. Shepherd said she appeared to be treading water, her arms and legs moving.
Later in the interview, Kelly showed Shepherd graphic photos of Fujimoto's injuries, both legs shredded, one nearly severed, with Kelly saying, "I know she's not swimming with her legs."
Shepherd appeared to backtrack, saying, "I only saw her from here to here," indicating the waist to the head. "She was angry with me, OK? She never said 'help me' to me, never once ... I didn't see any injuries whatsoever."
On the tape, Kelly is heard telling Shepherd he believed him when he said the lighting was dark and he didn't have a good view of Fujimoto.
Kelly was on the stand while the tape was played in court. He testified that he no longer believed it was too dark for Shepherd to see her injuries. He said he had since been able to check the official time of sunset, confirmed when Fujimoto was hit by the boat, and re-enacted conditions at the scene of the collision in the same time frame.
"Later I concluded that was not a truthful account from Mr. Shepherd," Kelly testified.
That drew an immediate objection from Shepherd's attorney, Glen Neeley.
"I want the jury instructed to disregard his assessment of the truthfulness of Mr. Shepherd," Neeley told 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones, saying that assessment is only for the jury to make.
Jones said he would take the objection under advisement.
Neeley also tried to place some of the blame on Fujimoto swimming out into open water, getting Detective Scott Sorenson to agree it would be dangerous.
But Sorenson also noted that the Spring Creek inlet area, where Fujimoto swam regularly for 10 years or more, was known to be largely too shallow for boats. It was more popular for swimming, he said, although boats aren't banned.
Neeley was apparently satisfied with how his client came across on the video, opting not to have Shepherd take the stand.
Just before the lunch break Thursday, he was asked by Jones if Shepherd was going to testify. "I won't know until the prosecution closes their case," he answered.
The prosecution rested just before 2 p.m., and Neeley told the judge he had advised Shepherd not to take the stand.
The trial reconvenes at 9 a.m. today with closing arguments, then the case goes to the jury following three days of testimony.