Swem: “Unjust conviction” in 2018 murder trial causes continued hardship

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Christopher Swem was convicted of murder, but then found not guilty in a retrial earlier this year. Swem was back in Jefferson County court Friday to be sentenced on a charge he was found guilty of: Tampering with Physical Evidence.

After sentencing Friday, Swem walked out of the Jefferson County Courthouse to go back to Colorado. Some may think it’s the end of chapter. Swem says to think again.

“This is still the beginning,” said Swem.

In 2017, Swem was accused of fatally stabbing Shawndell Anderson at a house party on Moulton Street.

Convicted in 2018, Swem did nearly 3 years in prison. That conviction is now thrown out by a state Court of Appeals and he was found not guilty of murder at a retrial this past May.

The one charge that stuck: One count of Tampering with Physical Evidence. He was sentenced time served.

During the trial, surveillance photos showed Swem’s then-fiancee’s car at a car wash where the clothes he was wearing the night of the stabbing were allegedly thrown out by Swem.

“They had no evidence but my ex-fiancee’s car at the car wash. I wasn’t in the vehicle at the time. But they didn’t do the research, and this is what happened. But I will be appealing that, and we’ll see what happens after that,” said Swem.

Assistant District Attorney Patty Dziuba disagrees.

“I believe there’s plenty of evidence to sustain this conviction. He’s entitled to his opinion, but a jury of 12 people had a different opinion and convicted him,” said Dziuba.

Back in August, Swem told us some aspects of life have been difficult after the second trial, applying for dozens of jobs with no luck. Friday, he admits its still a battle.

“I’ve got a lot of skillsets, and I do home renovations, but getting a regular 9 to 5, even for a FedEx job is difficult, because the murder case pops up,” said Swem.

Swem plans to sue the state for wrongful imprisonment and damage to his reputation.