Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prosecution presents case in Swain murder trial

TORTOLA, BVI — It has been almost two years since David Swain was extradited to the British Virgin Islands from his dive shop in Jamestown, R.I., accused of murdering his wife, Shelley Arden Tyre.

Originally ruled an accident by BVI authorities, the mysterious events surrounding Tyre’s death have since rekindled interest within the British jurisdiction’s judicial system, and Swain’s fate now rests in the hands of a nine-person jury in Tortola’s high court.

If convicted, Swain would face a mandatory life sentence in prison, under BVI law.

While the case has become amplifi ed by international media outlets,

the mood in the quiet territory of less than 30,000 residents has remained constant, with locals concerned more about gearing up for cruise ship season than a stranger’s fate.

But to family members currently on Tortola to support opposing sides of the argument, the case means either vindication or justice for Swain or Tyre.

Since Oct. 7, jurors have been introduced to a man described by the prosecution as a murderous husband, fueled by two motives: “money and the chance to explore a new love life with a new lady.”

In his opening statement, Direc- tor of Public Prosecution Terrence Williams painted the picture of a man who was similarly portrayed to a U.S. civil court judge three years ago, resulting in Swain’s wrongful death conviction.

“This is a case which starts in a marriage and – we say – ends in murder,” the DPP said in his opening statement last week.

The prosecution’s case, he further alleged, would tell the story of a scuba dive that would place Swain at the scene of a crime, causing his wife’s death.

Williams continued, informing jurors that over the course of the next few weeks, they’d be introduced to several scuba industry professionals who would testify that the state of Tyre’s equipment and the arrangement of her snorkel, mask and fin would point to a struggle – and Swain’s behavior, he alleged, would point to his guilt.

Acknowledging that some in the jury box would have no experience with scuba equipment and the recreation of diving, Williams assured jurors they would receive ample schooling throughout the course of the trial.

“This is a case where we will present to you certain facts and opinions of experts in the field,” he said. “I would like you to have regard particularly to the quality of these experts.”

Williams also told jurors they would hear from Mary Basler, who he said would testify about her relationship with Swain before and after his wife’s death.

Two letters would be presented as evidence, Williams added, which would depict Swain’s desire to end his marriage and pursue another relationship.

Since Swain signed a pre-nuptial agreement barring him from collecting money in a divorce, Williams alleged that for Swain to pursue a life and lucrative future with Basler, he decided to kill his wife.

“That dive was for this new woman – the fare of the change of lifestyle – the knowledge that if he divorced he’d get nothing, and the anxious expectation of the great wealth that would come of her death,” Williams said in his opening statements.