Larry Swearingen, Texas

Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 8:00 pm EDT

Larry Swearingen has been executed by the state of Texas. He was pronounced dead at 6:47pm CDT. Read more here.

Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 7:02 pm EDT

The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a request to halt the execution of Larry Swearingen.

Updated: Monday, August 19, 2019 8:00 pm EDT

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency to Larry Swearingen ahead of his scheduled execution.  The decision was unanimous.  Larry's attorneys are also filing additional federal appeals in an attempt to halt the execution.

Updated: Monday, August 19, 2019 3:57 pm EDT

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request from Larry Swearingen to halt his execution.  Larry and his attorneys are arguing that the importance of some scientific evidence presented at his initial trial was over emphasized, and may be disproven with new scientific methods.

Updated: Monday, August 19, 2019  9:10 am EDT

Larry Ray Swearingen is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Forty-eight-year-old Larry is convicted of the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter on December 8, 1998, in Montgomery County, Texas. Larry has 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 worked as an electrician/mechanic until his arrest. 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 After his arrest for murder, the probation was revoked and he was given a two-year sentence.

Melissa Trotter was a student at Montgomery College in Conroe, Texas. She met Swearingen in the beginning of December 1998. On December 8, 1998, Melissa and Swearingen were observed together in the library. 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 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 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. The found hosiery’s cut marks matched the cut piece of hosiery used to kill Melissa, however, Swearingen's attorneys dispute this conclusion, arguing that their experts claim they 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, never 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 has received numerous previous execution dates. Many of the execution dates were stayed to allow further DNA testing. Additional testing has revealed no new information for the case.  Larry's attorney has announced that they are once again appealing his conviction and sentence and attempting to secure a sixth stay of execution. This time, the appeal is based on a relatively new law that allows for a person to receive a retrial if the scientific conclusions used to convict them can be refuted.  According to Larry's lawyer, experts claim that some of the evidence used in Larry's trial had incorrect conclusions drawn.  Specifically, they are claiming the time of the death for the victim, Melissa Trotter, is incorrect, and that the correct time of death shows that Larry could not have committed the crime, as he was already in prison.  They are also arguing that the pantyhose used to strangle Melissa is not a match to the ones found in Larry's trash and that its importance was overstated during the trial.

 

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals have both rejected requests to halt Larry's execution. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan noted in his rejected that none of the "new" claims would have affected the outcome of the trial.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Melissa Trotter. Please pray for strength for the family of Larry. Please pray that if Larry is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be presented prior to the execution. Please pray that Larry may come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.

 

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