*** The execution date, scheduled for February 27, has been vacated. ***
Thanks to everyone on the legal defense team working on this case and making the impossible possible. Thanks to everyone who took action on behalf of Larry Swearingen and followed the Innocence Project's call for DNA testing.
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Larry Ray Swearingen was sentenced to death in July 2000 for the 1998 abduction, sexual assault and murder of Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old college student from Montgomery County, Texas. DNA testing excluded Swearingen as the perpetrator, and forensic science provides an airtight alibi: Swearingen was in the county jail on outstanding traffic warrants at the time Trotter was murdered and her body dumped in the Sam Houston National Forest.
Trotter, who was last seen alive on December 8, 1998, was murdered and her body dumped in the woods by late end of December 1998 (after 12/23/98). Swearingen was arrested on December 11, 1998, and has not been released ever since.
Blood found under the victim's fingernails was tested for DNA. It was male in origin and excluded him as the donor. Moreover, a pubic hair recovered during autopsy excluded him as the perpetrator.
In July 2011, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the third execution date and remanded the case back to the trial court to review and resolve Swearingen's claim of actual innocence and due process violation.
On remand, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing in February/March 2012, after which the trial judge recommended that relief sought be denied for Swearingen. The TCCA adopted the trial judge's findings and conclusions, and ordered on December 12, 2012, that relief sought is denied.
Two days later the trial judge Fred Edwards issued a new death warrant for Swearingen, and has set the fourth execution date for February 27, 2013.
At a hearing held on January 30, 2013, the new 9th state district court judge Kelly Case issued an indefinite stay of execution, stressing the need for "certainty over finality", so additional DNA testing can be done.
Thank you all very much for your support and welcome to this site.
- This website was last updated on February 16, 2013. -