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Cherokee man sentenced to more than 30 years for second degree murder

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A Cherokee, N.C. man convicted of second degree murder by a federal jury was sentenced to 365 months in prison today, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Shane McKinley Swimmer, 22, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was also ordered to serve eight years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

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 U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to filed court documents, trial evidence, and today’s sentencing hearing, on November 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 Qualla Boundary. Trial evidence established that shortly before 7:00 p.m., Swimmer attacked his uncle with a baseball bat, striking the victim in the head multiple times. 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. According to witness testimony, the victim was struck between eight and 30 times and sustained massive brain injuries. The victim’s official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

“Swimmer’s unprovoked and brutal attack caused the victim’s violent and untimely death,” said U.S. Attorney King. “I commend the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigative efforts in this case, which led to today’s lengthy sentence.”

Swimmer remains in federal custody. He will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigation of the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Pritchard and Alexis Solheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.

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