Recent Legal Action: Patrick Swiney case and New Evidence

A habeas corpus petition was filed August 13, 2003, in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit in Columbiana, Alabama. The petition is filed under the legal authority of Alabama Rule 32.1(e) by Wilson Myers, attorney for Patrick Swiney, a life without parole inmate currently incarcerated at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility near Bessemer.

To view the petition go to .  This petition presents new evidence dated July 2, 2003 showing that gun shot residue tests on .22 caliber ammunition with results that were "not conclusive" are exculpatory.

Mr. Swiney has been in prison since 1989 on a charge of capital murder in the deaths of Betty Snow Swiney and Ronnie Pate near Saginaw in 1987. Previous post-conviction relief efforts have failed in state and federal courts. After 14 years, new evidence has been discovered by forensic expert Dr. Jon Nordby proving that Mr. Swiney did not commit the crimes for which he was convicted. According to Alabama Rule 32 and the federal rules, a petitioner has one year after the discovery of new evidence to file for relief from a conviction.

Patrick in the news

By: A. Ratcliffe
Credit: WIAT/Birmingham
August 14, 2003 

   A former Shelby County sheriff's deputy has always maintained his innocence in a double murder over 14 years ago. Now, he and his supporters think they have the evidence to exonerate him. 

Relatives and supporters of Patrick Swiney gathered in front of the Shelby County courthouse Wednesday after filing a petition to prove the 58-year-old formed deputy's innocence. "The Rule 32 contains with it exhibits and scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates that GSR or gunshot residue exonerates Mr. Swiney," said Wilson Myers, Swiney's attorney. The heart of their filing is new technology, IR Spectroscopy. Technology that wasn't available until last year. They say the triggerman couldn't have come away without being covered in gunshot residue. And believe evidence not used in his trail shows Swiney had no residue on him. "We know that Patrick did not, could not have used the weapon that was used at the crime scene at al," said Myers. 

Swiney's wife, Sherry, say her husband is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming court proceedings. "We've become veterans of disappointment over the years. And the members of the Patrick crusade have worked over seven years to try to prove that he's innocent," said Sherry Swiney. 

Sherry Swiney says the fight to prove her husband's innocence hasn't been cheap. The IR Spectroscopy report cost her about $37,000.

Source: WIAT TV-42 CBS

Man Serving Life Sentence Petitions For Conviction To Be Set Aside

Attorney Says New Technology Proves Man's Innocence 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- An Alabama man serving life in prison has new reason to hope for freedom. 

Patrick Swiney was convicted of murdering his wife, Betty Snow Swiney, and her ex-husband in 1987. 

Wednesday, Patrick Swiney's attorney, Wilson Myers, filed a petition, requesting that the conviction be set aside. Wilson said new technological advances are allowing old evidence to be examined in a new light. 

"New technology in the area of gunshot residue has now come to the point to demonstrate clearly Patrick Swiney is not guilty of the crime he was convicted for back in 1998," Myers said. 

The district attorney and the judge have 60 days to response to petition.