MN Man Guilty In Iowa Gas Station Slaying

CARROLL, Iowa (WCCO/AP) — A Minnesota man has been found guilty of killing a convenience store clerk in northern Iowa. The jury reached their verdict almost immediately after they began deliberations Thursday.

Michael Swanson, 18, of St. Louis Park, Minn., was seen smiling and laughing as the verdict was read.

One day after the prosecution rested in its case against Swanson, the defense had also rested. Swanson was 17 when he was accused of killing Sheila Myers in Humboldt last November.

In closing arguments earlier Thursday, prosecutor Becky Goettsch says they have proven Swanson’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. She says the system didn’t do anything for Swanson because he “doesn’t have a mental illness.”

Defense attorney Charles Kenville says Swanson is someone who is “not right,” and “he’s never been right.” Swanson’s defense team planned to argue that he was mentally ill at the time of the shootings and didn’t know right from wrong.

Psychiatrist Michael Taylor testified for the state on Thursday as a rebuttal witness in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Swanson, 18, of St. Louis Park, Minn., saying Swanson showed no remorse, understood his crimes and his original plan from years ago was to kill his parents.

Taylor testified that Swanson expressed no remorse for his crimes in an April interview with Taylor, or in a letter and phone call from jail while awaiting trial.

Taylor said Swanson did not have bipolar disorder, and understood his crimes, as well as right from wrong.

“Mr. Swanson is not suffering from any type of diagnosable psychiatric disorder,” Taylor said. “He was fully capable of understanding the nature of his acts and differentiating between right and wrong when he shot and killed Sheila Myers.”

Taylor said Swanson told him the slayings have been brewing inside his head since he was 13. Swanson said his original plan was to wait until he was 18 and kill his parents, because those were the first two people he wanted to kill, Taylor said.

“I have always been fascinated by death and violence, and it was something I wanted to do — murder, rape and cannibalism,” Taylor said Swanson told him.

Swanson told Taylor that he explained to his mother that killing someone was like tossing a bucket of water on someone just before they jump in a swimming people: They were going to get wet anyway, Taylor testified.

“From Mr. Swanson’s perspective, people are going to die anyway,” Taylor said. “What difference does it make whether they die when they’re 77, or if he shoots them.”

Swanson is also charged with killing another clerk in Algona the same day. His trial in that case is set for July.

Swanson’s parents, Bob and Kathy, released the following statement that was read by Pastor John Nelson of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins, Minn.:

“We want to express our deepest and most profound sympathies and condolences for the families, extended families, friends, and communities that were affected by this horrible tragedy.  What happened on November 15th was truly devastating to all of the families involved.”

“As parents, nothing has prepared us for this type of a tragedy.  We had previously sought assistance and tried to get help for our son Michael, whom we love and we are heartbroken by these events. We hope the trial will present the desperate realities some families face whose children suffer from mental illness.”

“We love our son and will continue to show our love and support by standing with him through this process.  As this is a difficult time for our family, we ask for your respect of our privacy throughout this process.  We would like to thank all of the people in our church, our community in Minnesota and those in Iowa who have sent cards and prayers of support.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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