Man set to be executed for slaying of Melissa Trotter regardless of innocence claims

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas demise row inmate who has at all times maintained his innocence and contends his conviction was primarily based on junk science is about to be executed for the kidnapping, rape and homicide of a suburban Houston faculty scholar greater than 20 years in the past.

Larry Swearingen, 48, is scheduled to obtain a deadly injection Wednesday night for the December 1998 killing of Melissa Trotter.

The 19-year-old was final seen leaving her group faculty in Conroe, and her physique was discovered almost a month later in a forest close to Huntsville, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Houston.

Prosecutors mentioned they stand behind the “mountain of proof” used to convict Swearingen in 2000. They described him as a sociopath with a felony historical past of violence in opposition to girls and mentioned he tried to get a fellow demise row inmate to take credit score for his crime.

Swearingen’s attorneys late Tuesday requested the US Supreme Courtroom to halt the execution. They allege prosecutors used “false and deceptive testimony” associated to blood proof and a chunk of pantyhose used to strangle Trotter.

Swearingen, who can be represented by the Innocence Challenge, has beforehand obtained 5 stays of execution.

The fifth US Circuit Courtroom of Appeals final week rejected a problem to the testimony, saying it will not have any distinction within the trial as a result of “mountain of inculpatory proof” in opposition to Swearingen.

The fifth Circuit “did not consider the appreciable quantity of proof of innocence within the file that has been developed over time,” mentioned James Rytting, Swearingen’s longtime appellate legal professional.

If the execution occurs, Swearingen can be the 12th inmate put to demise this 12 months within the US and the fourth in Texas.

Kelly Blackburn, the trial bureau chief for the Montgomery County District Legal professional’s Workplace, which prosecuted Swearingen, mentioned Swearingen’s efforts to discredit the proof have been unsuccessful as a result of “his specialists’ opinions don’t maintain water.”

“I’ve completely zero doubt that anyone however Larry Swearingen killed … Melissa Trotter,” Blackburn mentioned.

Throughout a 2011 interview, Swearingen instructed The Related Press that he was bored with being “demonized” for against the law he didn’t commit.

“We’d all prefer to know who performed it,” he mentioned.

Blackburn mentioned Swearingen killed Trotter as a result of he was offended that she had stood him up for a date. On the time of Trotter’s killing, Swearingen was below indictment for kidnapping a former fiancée.

“Hopefully we’re one step nearer to giving (Trotter’s household) that justice that they’ve so lengthy waited for,” Blackburn mentioned.

Swearingen has lengthy tried to forged doubt on the proof used to convict him, notably claims by prosecution specialists that Trotter’s physique had been within the woods for 25 days.

Rytting mentioned at the very least 5 protection specialists concluded that her physique was there for not more than 14 days, and since Swearingen had already been arrested by then on excellent site visitors warrants, he couldn’t have left her physique there.

In Tuesday’s enchantment to the Supreme Courtroom, Swearingen’s attorneys maintained {that a} piece of pantyhose used to strangle Trotter was not a match to a chunk present in Swearingen’s trailer and testimony by against the law lab technician stating it was a match is “deceptive, invalid.”

Additionally they dispute prosecution specialists’ claims dismissing blood present in Trotter’s fingernail shavings, saying the blood, which was decided to not be Swearingen’s, helps the protection concept that another person killed her.

In letters despatched to Swearingen’s attorneys in July and August, the Texas Division of Public Security mentioned its technicians shouldn’t have been as definitive of their testimony concerning the blood discovered within the fingernails and the pantyhose match.

The fifth Circuit disagreed with protection allegations that the testimony concerning the blood proof and pantyhose match was false and deceptive.

Blackburn mentioned Swearingen has tried to get folks to lie with the intention to give him an alibi. After his arrest, Swearingen obtained one other inmate to jot down a letter Swearingen composed in Spanish that professed to be from the actual killer and had it despatched to his legal professional.

In 2017, Swearingen and one other demise row inmate, Anthony Shore, concocted a plan to get Shore to take accountability for Trotter’s killing. Shore was executed final 12 months.

Rytting mentioned Swearingen is responsible of doing “some very silly issues,” however prosecutors don’t have proof he killed Trotter.