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On trial for murder, Swem hugs protesters outside courthouse; jury to resume deliberations Friday

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 12:19 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - After deliberating for about two hours Thursday, the jury in the Christopher Swem murder trial was sent home for the evening.

Swem is accused of fatally stabbing Shawndell Anderson at a house party on Moulton Street in Watertown on August 19, 2017.

Earlier in the day, friends of Swem gathered outside Jefferson County Court to protest his prosecution.

They say prosecutors have the wrong man. About a dozen people held up signs outside the courthouse.

“He’s definitely not the type of person to murder somebody. That’s not even in his character,” said Rajshem Richardson, a longtime friend. “He’s a very good guy, non-violent.

During a break in the trial, Swem came out to hug the friends.

In 2018, Swem was convicted of murder and other crimes.

But in 2020, a state appeals court ruled the conviction should be tossed out, clearing the way for this new trial.

Attorneys presented their closing arguments Thursday morning.

Defense attorney John Hallett started off by arguing the evidence against Swem was strictly circumstantial, pointing to the fact that not one person at the party that night reported seeing Swem with a knife. He also referred to testimony from the owner of the home, who said a man named “Bones” admitted to the stabbing shortly after.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Patricia Dziuba argued the prosecution had proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt and asked the jury to consider the DNA evidence found on the clothing Swem allegedly threw out.

She also said the information “Bones” gave the homeowner could not be corroborated by any of the evidence.

The jury began deliberations at 2:10 p.m. and were sent home for the day at around 4 p.m.

Deliberations will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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