Patrick Swiney

Shelby County, Alabama
Date of Crime:  December 10, 1987

Patrick Swiney was convicted of murdering his wife, Betty Snow Swiney, and her ex-husband, Ronald Pate. One night, when Swiney was approaching his house, he blacked out, stating that he felt as though he'd been hit on the head with a baseball bat. He awoke in his house with a serious bruise on his head and with the rifle he kept in his truck lying near him. He found his wife and her ex-husband lying on the floor, shot dead with bullets assumed to have been fired from the rifle.

While the circumstantial evidence points to Swiney's guilt, forensics establish that he is innocent. No blood or blood spatter was found on Swiney's skin or clothing, even though the DA claimed that Swiney shot Pate at point blank range, execution style. Gunpowder tests show there was no gunpowder residue on Swiney. He could not have fired a gun or have been near one when it discharged. Forensic tests were suppressed at trial and did not come to light until 1997. Autopsy reports later showed bullet wounds in each victim were twice the size of what would be produced by Swiney's .22 caliber AR-7 rifle.

Swiney was a police officer from 1965 to 1977 at Huntsville, Vestavia, and Gulf Shores Police Departments. He turned in his badge in 1977 after seeing how corrupt officials were at Gulf Shores in Baldwin County. At Gulf Shores he received many threats on his life and was the victim of two assassination attempts. The first attempt was minor, although the second nearly succeeded. Swiney had gathered evidence that sent the Baldwin County DA, Jimmy Hendrix, and the Sheriff's Office Chief Investigator, Bobbie Stewart, to federal prison.

Other anomalies exist with the case. Following the killings, the Shelby County DA, J. Michael Campbell, took the highly unusual step of calling the coroner's office and telling them not to perform a vaginal swab on Betty Snow or take fingernail cultures. Such tests would seem to help the DA's case in alleging that Snow and Pate were having a sexual relationship and that Swiney had killed the two in a jealous rage. Betty Snow and the DA were old sweethearts, and according to at least one witness, the DA had been having an affair with her. Swiney was not prosecuted for a crime of passion, which carries a much lighter sentence, but for first-degree murder, for which he received a life without parole sentence. Supporters of Patrick Swiney have established the P.a.t.r.i.c.k. Crusade (People Aligned To Replace Injustice and Cruelty with Knowledge), an organization that publicizes the plight of many convicted but innocent persons.  [1/07]


References:  Swiney Case, Justice: DeniedIIPPI

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