The State of Texas delayed the execution of Larry Swearingen, scheduled for August 18, 2011, for the third time this week.
Anytime a death penalty execution is postponed it could affect law enforcement in Wichita Falls, Texas, a city of about 105,000 near the Red River.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, previously released information concerning the death of Melissa Trotter.
According to Abbott’s office, Larry Swearingen was sentenced to be executed for the kidnapping, rape and strangulation of Melissa Trotter more than a decade ago on July 11, 2000.
Abbott’s office said Swearingen in December of 1998 told friends he had met an attractive college girl and hinted that he wanted to have sex with her. During the early afternoon hours of December 8, 1998 Swearingen and the murder victim were observed leaving Montgomery College after visiting in the school library.
The family of Melissa Trotter never saw her alive again.
Swearingen was arrested on December 11 for outstanding warrants related to other charges against him.
It would not be until January 2, 1999, that theTrotters heard the devastating news. Melissa Trotter was dead.
Even worse, she died violently. Her partially nude body was found in Sam Houston National Forest. Investigators concluded she had been strangled with a piece of torn hosiery found around her neck.
Evidence showed she had been raped.
Fiber evidence showed Trotter had been in Swearingen’s trailer, on the floor and perhaps the bed, as well as in the cab of his pickup truck.
After the 18-year old college student disappeared, Swearingen advised friends he was worried the police were after him.
Previously scheduled to be executed on January 24, 2007, Swearingen was this time saved by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals which this week stayed his execution.
Defense attorneys in their appeal now claim Swearingen was in jail on the traffic warrants when Trotter was murdered.
In 2007, Dr. Joyce Carter, the medical examiner who testified at Swearingen’s trial that Trotter had been in the forest for 25 days, reviewed new evidence and submitted an affidavit in which she concluded the murder happened within two weeks of the day Trotter’s body was found.
Defense attorneys want to have a full court hearing to present their forensic science.
Prosecutors remain confident of Swearingen’s guilt.
Police say one leg of lingerie found in Swearingen’s home matched the panyhose found around Trotter’s neck to allegedly strangle her.
Pieces of school papers belonging to Trotter were also found near Swearingen’s parents’ home.
Family members of the victim said they were frustrated that Swearingen’s execution had been delayed a third time.
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