The Journal of History     Summer 2003     TABLE OF CONTENTS

Did You Know?

Another Innocent Man Languishes in Prison who needs to be freed-
a vendetta because of drugs

In 1987, two people were shot to death in the marriage home of Patrick and Betty Swiney in Saginaw, Alabama. It was Patrick's wife and her ex-husband who were shot and killed. Betty and Patrick had only been married about 5 months by then. The police immediately suspected Patrick, the husband. They never looked elsewhere for a suspect because they had a circumstantial case that seemed tight.

At the time of the shooting, Patrick was at the marriage home, so that put him at the scene of the crime. When the police asked him what happened, Patrick told them he said he didn't know what happened. He'd been hit on the back of the head and was unconscious so he did not see who killed his wife and the other man with her.

Patrick is a former police officer who was responsible for the arrest and conviction of the then District Attorney in Baldwin County in Alabama and the Chief Investigator for the sheriff's office for drug smuggling and racketeering in the Gulf Shores area of southern Alabama.

Patrick was convicted in 1989 of a double-murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the Alabama prison system. From the first day until today, the prison authorities have abused him mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, yet he survives.

Eight years after the conviction, Patrick and Sherry met and married. Two years later, his new wife found two forensic reports that were never introduced at the trial. These reports indicated that the State did not find any gunpowder residue or any blood on Patrick's skin, clothing, or shoes. All they had was the circumstantial case and no actual evidence to convict.

Sherry Swiney immediately set out to prove her husband's innocence scientifically.

In 2002, a forensic scientist with some notoriety was hired to examine what little evidence and documentation there was on this case. The indictment states that Patrick shot and killed two people in one course of action with a rifle. That rifle was said to be an AR7 .22 semi-automatic survival rifle. The state would not hand over the evidence to Mrs. Swiney for testing. Knowing something about weapons, Mrs. Swiney purchased another AR7 and the same ammunition that was stated in the trial transcripts and had the forensic scientist test that for the general effects of gunpowder residue.

The results of these scientific tests show that no one can shoot an AR7 - no one - without being literally covered with gunpowder residue. AR7's across the board have similarities, one of which is that this is a very "dirty" weapon. The petition on actual innocence will be presented to the Alabama courts very soon. After it is filed, the petition will be posted on a website for everyone to see the details. For now, we claim scientifically that Patrick Swiney was not the shooter because it is impossible to shoot the alleged weapon (an AR7) without being covered with gunpowder. The state found NO residue on Patrick.

Patrick has spent the last 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He is outspoken about prison abuse and because of that outspokenness, the prison officials have continuously punished him without mercy. Yet he continues to speak out because that's the right thing to do.



The Journal of History - Summer 2003 Copyright © 2003 by News Source, Inc.