2009-02-19 / News

Swain murder trial set for June 29

June 29 has been scheduled for the British Virgin Islands murder trial of Jamestowner David Swain, who is accused in the 1999 drowning death of this wife, Shelley Arden Tyre, while the couple was on a scuba diving vacation in Tortola.

Swain, a former owner of Ocean State Scuba and a two-term Jamestown Town Council member, appeared in court in Tortola on Tuesday and was told that he must seek legal aid.

According to information from the BVI Premier's Office, Swain appeared in court with lawyer Patrick Thompson, who represented Swain's attorney, Hayden St. Clair-Douglas.

The BVI Platinum News reported that Thompson told the court that an attorney had not properly been retained, meaning that Swain has yet to "sort out his financial issues" in retaining a lawyer.

The court set the June 29 date for the trial because the prosecution said there were a number of overseas witnesses who need to book transportation. However, because Swain's legal representation for the trial remains unclear, Swain will report back to court on March 14, when representation is expected to be determined.

Shelley Tyre's drowning death was originally ruled an accident by BVI authorities and the case was closed. Tyre's parents, Richard and Lisa Tyre, now of Canton, Mass., hired Warwick attorney J. Renn Olenn to investigate the case.

Olenn worked for a year and amassed enough evidence, although circumstantial, to warrant a wrongful death lawsuit which the Tyre's parents initiated in 2002. The civil case went to trial in 2006 and the Rhode Island Superior Court jury found Swain responsible for Tyre's death. The court awarded Tyre's family more than $5 million in compensation.

Swain appealed the case and lost his bid to overturn the 2006 wrongful death verdict in 2007. In a 21-page decision, the Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected Swain's arguments for a new trial. While Swain was going through the appeal process, BVI authorities reopened the case and asked that Swain be extradited to face charges in Tortola based on evidence brought forth in the Rhode Island civil trial.

In November of 2007, almost nine years after Tyre died, federal marshals presented Swain with a murder warrant from Tortola, and arrested him at his Jamestown dive shop.

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