The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for the second time Wednesday reversed a state district judge’s order that would have allowed East Texas death row inmate Larry Swearingen to test DNA from evidence in his murder case.
Swearingen, 44, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 19-year-old Melissa Trotter, then a Lone Star College student in 1998. He was sentenced to death in 2000. His execution date has been set and stayed multiple times.
The death row inmate has argued that he couldn’t have killed Trotter because he was in jail when she was murdered, and DNA testing would prove that someone else committed the crime. State District Judge Kelly Case twice granted Swearingen’s requests for evidence to be tested. Montgomery County prosecutors appealed each time, and now, the state’s highest criminal court has sided with the state again.
Each time, the court ultimately has ruled that results from DNA testing would not have overcome the “mountain of evidence” establishing Swearingen's guilt.