Defendant in Karen Swift Murder Trial could walk free

Posted at 4:33 PM, July 2, 2024

DYER COUNTY, Tenn. (Court TV) — A unique legal situation happened in a Tennessee courtroom this afternoon when David Swift appeared for what was supposed to be a bond reduction hearing related to the 2011 cold case death of his wife, Karen Swift. The hearing swiftly turned into a motion to dismiss as Swift’s defense argued that the statute of limitations expired prior to his 2022 indictment on a charge of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

Bearded, grey-haired man in grey prison stripes.

David Swift appears in court on July 2, 2024. (Court TV)

Last month, a jury was hung on charges that David killed Karen. They found him not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, not guilty of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, not guilty of second-degree murder and not guilty of attempted second-degree murder. On the voluntary manslaughter charge, however, they were deadlocked, and that’s the charge that David’s attorneys say has exceeded the statute of limitations.

 READ MORE: TN v. David Swift: Karen Swift Murder Trial

David, now 56, was expected to be retried on the voluntary manslaughter charge but not the murder charges. It is important to note that there is no statute of limitations in first and second-degree murder, but under Tennessee law, voluntary manslaughter carries a statute of limitations.

He was indicted on June 20, two weeks after jurors announced they could not come to a decision on voluntary manslaughter.

split screen of David and Karen Swift

David Swift is charged with the murder of his wife, Karen Swift, in 2011. (Dyer County Sheriff’s Office)

David was indicted in 2022, 11 years after Karen’s disappearance. Karen, 44, was reported missing on Oct. 30, 2011, three weeks after filing for divorce from David. The mother of four had gone to a Halloween party earlier that night. David told police that she had left the party early to pick up their daughter from a slumber party. Karen’s SUV, which had a shredded tire, was located near her home. Her purse and a Halloween mask were in the vehicle as well.

Prosecutors alleged David was the last person to see Karen alive when she returned from the party. Her body was located six weeks later by hunters, on Dec. 10, in an abandoned cemetery. An autopsy report for Karen stated that the cause of death was “blunt force injury of the head.”

By the time he was arrested in 2022, David had remarried and relocated to Birmingham, Alabama. David faces separate charges in Alabama related to stalking his second wife, who has since divorced him.

After both sides presented their arguments today, the judge announced he would take time to think it over and set the next court date for July 30.

If the voluntary manslaughter charge sticks and David is convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence.