WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – DNA evidence was front and center in Jefferson County Court on Tuesday in the murder trial of Christopher Swem.
Swem is accused of fatally stabbing Shawndell Anderson at a house party on Moulton Street in Watertown on August 19, 2017.
In 2018, Swem was convicted of murder and other crimes.
But in 2020, a state appeals court ruled the conviction should be tossed out, clearing the way for this new trial.
On Tuesday, forensic scientists with the New York State Police Crime Lab testified none of the knives recovered in the case contained blood evidence. And none of the knives could be linked by DNA to Swem.
They did, however, testify the victim’s DNA was found on a shirt also containing Swem’s DNA.
While none of the knives were linked to Swem, one knife did have DNA from an unknown person.
Defense attorney John Hallet argued the knife could have been cleaned and asked why that unknown source of DNA wasn’t explored further.
The forensic pathologist who performed the victim’s autopsy also testified. He says he discovered five stab wounds – the deepest pierced through the heart. Another through the lung.
He said it’s his opinion that a particular knife, which has been referenced a number of times during the trial, couldn’t have caused the stab wounds. He says the surface cuts on the skin are too short in length to have come from the knife.
Meanwhile, Hallett argued how the knife was consistent in terms of shape and angle.
The prosecution has two more witnesses expected to testify Wednesday.
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