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.)

  • Steve

    If ever there was a reason for the death penalty in MN, this is it! Kook!

    • Jim

      I think death would be too easy. I’d rather see this guy rot in jail until a ripe old age. Death is a release for a psycho like this.

      • Marcellus Wallace

        Your punishment would only serve to make you feel better, knowing he was suffering. I don’t think that’s the healthy way to look at this. His punishment should be relinquishing his own life. It’s everything he has to give, and it should be taken.

  • steve

    Mean Iowa. anywhere for that matter – kook!

  • PLS

    He is definitely a candidate for the death penalty. With his attitude, there is no hope for successful rehap. I didn’t see in the article if they are trying him as an adult or juvenile. With that baby face, they’ll love him in prison.

  • Ali

    He is being tried as a adult.

  • Brett

    I used to be against the death penalty before this case, but as time has gone on since I first heard about it I have done a 180 degree turn. This individual would be put to death if he did this in a place like Alabama or Florida. In my opinion he should be put to death here as well. Did anybody else see the quick video of the psychiatrist that interviewed him? Very scary things. I feel bad for the victims’ families.

    • @Brett

      This case made u believe in death penalty? but when a mother kills her 3 children that didn’t? You’re a rearend

  • freelove

    give him life in prison he doesnot deserve to see the streets again

  • Cindy

    Sadley free love, I believe even this kid is a threat to those he woulld be locked up with, pure evil.

    • fred

      I would disagree, cindy. there are some real tough psychos in prison. they don`t need a gun, or a knife to kill. they will turn smirk-boy into their girlfriend.

  • Looks Like Denzel

    Tall tree in a downtown park with a good strong rope.

  • Yippppeeeee - fun time

    I feel for the parents and family as it’s a given they didn’t want the devil kid to turn out as he did.
    That said —— I got the rope and can hit 35W anytime they call me. Who’s coming along?

    • DM

      I’m in! In fact I’ll even pay for the gas and buy lunch!

  • Verdict In Iowa Gas Station Killing In « CBS Minnesota

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  • Swanson Guilty Of Murder « CBS Minnesota

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  • Don

    He doesn’t deserve life in prison, he doesn’t deserve lethal injection.he deserves a point blank firing squad.

  • Jason

    Cost of a bullet .90 cents

    Cost to drive to Iowa and use that bullet on this arrogant punk. $40

    Knowing that he would cease to exist on this planet…..PRICELESS!!!!!

    • Yippppeeeee - fun time

      cost of rope …. donated.
      cost of gas. $40

      I am cheaper and already have a passenger. Want to join us?

  • Dave

    If this were in MN they’d still be having pretrial hearings and delays. Then (if convicted) he’d be sentenced to probation and 30 days community service.

    • Jim

      What a ridiculous post. Why write something so stupid?

      • Marcellus Wallace

        It sounds like Dave is frustrated by the “everybody deserves a 64th chance” theory MN has adopted in punishing its most violent criminals.

  • TW

    This guy was planning to become a serial killer and so far as we know his victims were these two ladies. At some point in his life this young man decided to take on the authority of deity and decide when people would die. What a waste all around but especially the two ladies just trying to work and take care of their lives in a job that few of us would want. Heart felt sympathy to their families and friends. This guy should have been in a mental hospital years ago.

    • Mulder

      You cannot plan to be a serial killer, so you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. Such talk itself indicates a mental illness.

      • Marcellus Wallace

        Sociopathic behavior definitely spawns interest and motivation for becoming a serial killer.
        I would say he’s twisted mentally, not disabled mentally. He’s fully aware of what he was doing and of what he’s done, retrospectively. There is no point he was uncertain of right or wrong.

      • pat

        Mulder, if you read the article he was planning on killing since he was 13. The fact that his parents dodged a bullet and the two women in Iowa became his first doesn’t change the fact that he planned to murder.
        He was a train wreck waiting to happen and his family did what they could and we live in a free society, so he couldn’t be incarcerated before he killed.
        I am so sorry for all the families and friends of both victims and his family. Like all killers once he made up his mind to commit a murder nothing would stop him.

  • TwinsRAwesome

    Death Penalty, PERIOD! It’s not for everyone, but made for this POS. Do it, do it quick, do it publicly!

  • My brother

    I’m very devastated and shocked to see my brother going through this unthinkable tragedy. My brother had almost everything he wanted in life, but he had chosen the wrong path and I’m deeply affected by this. I feel sorry for the lives he had taken and I will stand with my brother and support him through prayer. My brother is mentally ill and that is why he did what he did and please refrain using vulgar language and stop being rude toward my brother. That could be your brother or sister and you would be just as sad as I’m. My brother doesn’t deserve death, but rehabilitaion and please pray for him. Thanks

    • Marcellus Wallace

      What hope for rehabilitation would you have? That he can put it all behind him and have a normal job and a family and kids and live happily ever after?

      Stop being rude toward him?

      You need to get off this comment section. You don’t have the stomach to see what the world thinks of your POS sibling. We all wish for him to experience an agonizing death.

    • Mandy

      If my brother or sister did this horrible act, I would want him/her to be punished. I would not make excuses for him/her and state they are mentally ill when they have proven not to be. My god…wake up, he was planning on killing your parents even! If this is truly your brother, he is one sick twisted individual and deserves everything he has coming to him.

      • Mulder

        Obviously, you judge people based on your belief that you know what you’re talking about, even though you have no clue.

        It has never been proven that Michael Swanson isn’t mentally ill; it’s nothing more than an assertion by the prosecution and their paid psychiatrist. Assertions aren’t facts, but you don’t seem to grasp the difference between them.

        Mental illness is something that cannot be predicted, and some types of mental illness cannot be effectively treated. But for you to claim that someone isn’t mentally ill based on no evidence reveals your ignorance.

        • mary weiss


          Thank you. As you know, people are so quick to judge. I was at the trial. I know Michael’s mother. I know that they did absolutely everything to get treatment for their son. No one would help. This was the result.

          I would like to say that perhaps now the mental health system will be more responsive when a parent cries for help, but I personally know better.

      • mary weiss


        What do you understand the definition of mental illness to be? Michal was mentally ill for his entire life – yet no doctor would help him. My son was mentally ill, and his doctor put him into a clinical trial! Treatment? Google Dan Markingson – and when you can walk either in his shoes – or mine – or those of Michael Swanson’s parents – then cast that first stone.

    • Not my brother

      Why don’t your family supply the rope and save the tax payer some money, he’s going to rot in prison anyways.Who is laughing now fools.

    • Kelly

      I live in St. Louis Park and have followed this story. My heart breaks both for the family members of his victims and for what your family has had to go through because of the acts of your brother. Your mom and dad seem like lovely people and I’m sure you are too. While I certainly don’t condone what your brother did, strangers can be quick to judge without considering that he was still a son and brother and your family obviously tried to get him help, but the system failed him. I wish you and your family strength in the years ahead.

      • fred

        the system failed him, kelly?….quick to judge?….go change the sheets on your bed, and this time, put a plastic liner over the mattress..

    • mary weiss

      Michael Swanson’s parents tried for his entire life to get him help for his mental health problems. No one would help. Yes, what he did was horrific, but he should have received treatment years ago – and perhaps this would not have happened. How could this psychiatrist not say he was mentally ill? If he was not mentally ill, then no one is.

      Put him in a hospital where he can he treated. This is a wakeup call for the mental health community. Treat those who are mentally ill!

  • Yippppeeeee - fun time

    Thing is it wasn’t for lack of trying by his parents. This is a first for me but ___ the system let them down. Primarily the medical but also the courts.
    Things should never have reached this point – he HTG was a candidate for the strongest meds on the planet WITHIN a mental ward somewhere.
    I can’t imagine living in fear of my kid and having no where to turn that will support me in remedying things short of ending his life myself.
    Gawd awful monster her is.

    Anyhoots – ropes in car and it’s getting gassed up. Last call for anyone who wants to come along i

    • cls

      I feel for the family. They are victims too. They have to live with the torment of their relatives decision,illness, craziness, whatever knowing they can’t do a darn thing about what has happened. those of you insensitive to the family know this-when a family member commits a crime it tears you apart. you struggle with loving the person that youmay have loved and raised and hating the decision they made. it is awful.

      To the family please find the book “Laying my Isaac Down” it will provide some comfort.

  • Jim Reinholdt

    I am sick to death of people hiding behind mental illness. I have suffered mental health problems which are so bad that I am disabled as a result. Mental illness does not mean legally insane. I have never felt homocidal. If it is true that this boy’s mom was told that there was nothing they could do, she should have had him commited right there. And before you liberal crybabies say that it is easy for me to say that. I have raised 5 children, 4 of whom had drug problems and as hard as it was, have had to call the police and other unpleasant choices.

    This kid smirked and smiled when pronounced guilty, and the sustem did let him down, in that every time he broke the law he got a slap on the wrist because he was “just a child” B as in B, S as in S. I knew at the age of 5 murder was wrong.

    • Lacking a brain some are

      Me too Jim – but I served in Korea next to many who were born “wrong” as they say and loved to indulge in the game of killing. I am not talking combatants they were killing but civillians who happened to be within their range.
      There are people who are mentally ill beyond reason. That is fact.
      Now pull your head out of your ass and understand facts – some people should be dead and are not. Some are mentally warped past help. Some cannot be committed as the courts won’t allow.
      And for the record – my son-in-law had several encounters with this kid in the line of duty and they did what they could. It was not enough.
      I once served with a Jim Reinholdt and one thing I can assue all here. YOU are not him. He was a man. You are a pathetic individual

      • Jim Reinholdt

        If it was my father you served with, and it is possible as he was a Korean was vet. You are right, he was a hell of a man and taught me many things. One of those thise is not to make statements made in ignorance. Calling me pathetic because I am angry that people like this kid are hiding behing mental illness as an excuse to kill. I suffer from PTSD and other mood disorders and I am a proud veteran who is 100% permanently and totally disabled for it. You mentioned facts, FACT: 1 in 4 people suffer from treatable mental illness. Does that make 25% of our population homicidal? I posted because I am angry that everytime a person commits a heinous act they claim mental illness. There are truly criminaly insane and there are commitment procedures in place. I did not any where in my post say that this person should be leet off. Perhaps you should pull your head out and re read what I wrote. I wish Iowa had the death penalty and this young man could recieve it. He is bipolar, but that does not excuse him from his actions. I assume you son in law is a peace officer, I respect all in that profession as they are under appreciated and under paid. Look at another fact, even with the death penalty, the US Supreme court does not allow execution of mentally ill patients.. This is a pity. I stand by my statement that the people who did this kid the disservice are the courts who kept slapping him on the wrist. He is responsible and should die for this crime. I fail to see how I am a “pathetic individual”. If you would re read what I wrote, you would find that we are in agreement other than I get tired of these people reinforcing the stigma that mental illness is bad and the people who suffer from it are horrible. Google a list of famous Bi Polar people. Since we seem to agree though stated differently then may I question your manhood, and assume you have your head up your ass, along with being pathetic?

  • Common Man

    …desperate realities some families face whose children suffer from mental illness… Sorry Mom and Dad your kid is not one of them. This guy is just a killer who needs to be put away forever or put down by the State.

  • jan

    He must have been born without a conscience. He should have been locked up sooner and then those people he murdered would be alive now. He’s nuts but that’s no excuse for what he did. Throw away the key, we don’t want to have to deal with him ever again.

  • Ann

    To Michael’s parents: May the Heavenly Father take you in his arms during this difficult time, and embrace you with his LOVE.
    ALSO you should sleep better knowing he is in a better place, that ensures your safety.

  • Pete

    Some people call it mental illness and some just call it…evil. I know what my choice of descriptions would be. There is indeed evil in this world of ours. Whats the difference between someone who sanctions the killings of millions of people during the 2nd world war and this guy. They’re both murderers and deserve the same fate. Murder is Murder, I don’t think this guy is mentally ill…he’s just evil…a spawn of Satan.

    • Mulder

      If you really believe that nonsense you spew about him being the spawn of Satan, then you better get on your knees and start praying…because the End of Days is coming fast for you.

  • Nancy Aleshire

    To the man who said he was the brother of Michael Swanson, your brother is not mentally ill and must pay for the consequences of his actions. He clearly fits the definition of a sociopath, as well as conditions as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and explosive personality disorder. This is not the same as having a psychosis such as schizophrenia or bipolar. I am speaking as the mom of a son who had schizophrenia as well as Aspergers syndrome. Unfortunately my son, Tim, was killed at his workplace by staff. Tim showed deep remorse for his actions, such as lashing after people, myself included. Tim also had deep compassion for abused animals and victims of catastrophies such as tornadoes or earthquakes. So prison is definitely the right place for Michael. I do feel that Michael did fall through the cracks by the mental health system, like many do. I feel extremely bad for your parents. I truly feel they did everything they could possibly do and are certainly not at fault for the death of these two women. Michael’s laughing and smirking clearly show that he is a sociopath–but not mentally ill. I guarantee after one year of being incarcerated your brother will no longer be smiling.

    • Jake

      Well said, Nancy, and to the idiot ‘mulder’, well, you just better hope not to cross paths with me and push my buttons. Doctor or not, there is no excuse tor this kind of behaviour.

    • Mulder

      Another person who doesn’t know what they’re talking about! Sociopathy is a mental illness, so if we assume (as you do) that he is a sociopath, then he is quite obviously mentally ill.

      You should try becoming a doctor before you make your stupid statements.

      • reality check

        Keep defending Mulder, I wish he was your neighbor

    • mary weiss


      Take a breath, and realize that no one – no one! is saying that Michael Swanson should not be punished for his horrific crime. But understand, please, Nancy, that I know his parents have tried desperately since the boy was three years old to get help for him.

      Michael’s smirking does not show mental illness…yet the millions of people in the U.S. on psychiatric drugs are…mentally ill? Take a week or two to think about this. A psychiatric hospital does certainly not mean that he will ever be released. By being locked up in a hospital for the rest of his life he will pay for his actions -but, Nancy, where is the treatment for those who are mentally ill (and I am not talking about those who are a ‘bit’ sad, and are given a prescription for an antidepressant by their doctor).

      Let’s work to make the public understand the true nature of mental illness, and that treatment (not necessarily drugs) is the answer, not doctors who say “I can do nothing for him”.
      Good for you that you have the training to understand who is mentally ill and who is not.

  • Cindy Crawford

    I wonder if he will be smiling and laughing when one of these lifers get a hold of him in the big house?

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