ASHEVILLE – A federal jury in Asheville convicted Shane McKinley Swimmer, 21, of Cherokee, of second degree murder late on Thursday, Sept. 9, announced William T. Stetzer, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the three-day trial. Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Josh Taylor, of the Cherokee Indian Police Department, join Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer in making Thursday’s announcement.
According to filed court documents, trial evidence, and witness testimony, on Nov. 10, 2018, Swimmer and his uncle, Charles Ray “Chino” West, were at his uncle’s residence on Rocky Knob Trail in Swain County, which is within the boundaries of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reservation. Trial evidence established that shortly before 7 p.m., Swimmer attacked his uncle with a baseball bat, striking the victim in the head at least nine times. The victim died as a result of his injuries.
Following the attack, Swimmer went to another family member’s house nearby and announced that the victim was dead before calling 911. Officers with the Cherokee Indian Police Department arrested Swimmer shortly thereafter.
Swimmer remains in federal custody. The second degree murder charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison. A sentencing date for Swimmer has not been set.
In making the announcement Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer thanked the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigation of the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pritchard and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) Alexis Solheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville. Ms. Solheim is a state prosecutor with the office of the 30th Prosecutorial District and was assigned by District Attorney Ashley Welch to serve as SAUSA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville. Ms. Solheim is duly sworn in both state and federal courts. The SAUSA position is a reflection of the partnership between the office of the 30 th Prosecutorial District and the United States Attorney’s Office. The SAUSA position helps ensure the effective and vigorous prosecution of federal court cases that impact the counties within the 30th Prosecutorial District.
– U.S. Dept. of Justice release