Larry Swearingen, Texas

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Larry Ray Swearingen has been executed by the state of Texas on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. He was pronounced dead at 6:47 pm CDT, inside the Walls Unit execution chamber at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Larry was 48 years of age. He was executed for the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old college student Melissa Trotter on December 8, 1998, in Montgomery County, Texas. Larry spent the last 19 years of his life on Texas’ death row.

Larry was born in Montgomery County, Texas on May 21, 1971. He attended school through the 11th grade. Larry had one prior conviction for burglary of a building, for which he received probation. After his arrest for murder, the probation was revoked and he was given a two-year sentence. Larry worked as an electrician/mechanic until his arrest.

Melissa Trotter was a student at Montgomery College in Conroe, Texas. She met Larry Swearingen in the beginning of December, in 1998. On December 8, 1998, Melissa and Swearingen were observed together in the library on campus. They were seen leaving the campus together by her biology professor, who later identified the man with Melissa as Swearingen. After leaving campus that day, Melissa was never seen or heard from again. On January 2, 1999, her partially nude body was found by two hunters in the Sam Houston National Forest.

 

On December 13, 2000, around 11:20 am, the seven inmates used a variety of ploys to overpower and restrain nine civilian maintenance supervisors, four correctional officers, and three uninvolved inmates. They had planned the escape during the slowest part of the day and in areas with low surveillance. They stole a white prison truck to assist in their escape, eventually dumping it in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

 

On December 11, 1998, prior to Melissa’s body being discovered, Swearingen was arrested for unrelated outstanding warrants. After Melissa’s body was discovered, he quickly became the police’s prime suspect. Police searched the trailer in which Swearingen lived with his wife. Inside, police discovered a pack of cigarettes, the same brand that Melissa smoked, and a lighter that was similar to the one Melissa had used. Neither Swearingen, nor his wife, smoked.

 

Melissa had been strangled to death using a small piece of hosiery, which had been cut from a pair of nylons. Police did not find a pair nylons when searching the trailer, however, Swearingen’s landlord found the missing hosiery in a bag of trash while he was cleaning the trailer in preparation for new tenants. During the trial, an expert testified that the found hosiery’s cut marks matched the cut piece of hosiery used to kill Melissa. This testimony was disputed by Swearingen's attorneys who produced their experts which claim the pieces of hosiery do not match.

 

Swearingen has maintained his innocence since being arrested for murder, alleging he was in jail at the time of her death, which is debated. Police searched the Sam Houston National Forest several times, prior to hunters finding Melissa’s body. Swearingen maintains that Melissa’s body must have been placed there after police searched the area and while he was in jail.

 

Larry Swearingen had received numerous execution dates over the years, resulting in numerous stays to allow for further DNA testing, which did not reveal any new information about the case.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Melissa Trotter. Please pray for strength for the family of Larry.

 

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