November 19, 2012 - 5:50 PM
A man once convicted by a jury of the first-degree murder of an 85-year-old woman in Penticton, only to be awarded a new trial, has now pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Corey Wolf Swite, 26, ended his re-trial Monday after almost three months of evidence when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson found him not guilty of first-degree murder and accepted a guilty plea to the lesser charge. The Crown had nearly finished its case and it appeared likely that the first-degree murder charge wouldn't stand, which led to the change in plea. Swite was originally convicted by a jury but won a new trial because of procedural problems in his original trial.
Swite told undercover RCMP investigators and later confirmed that he broke into Olive Hill's Bel-Air apartment late one night in August, 2006 to steal some smokes and booze when he accidentally woke Hill up. He told them he smothered her and killed her. He said while he was rifling through her home, he found a condom which gave him the idea of having sex with the lifeless body. Had he raped her before killing her, it would have been a clear case of first-degree murder.
Both first- and second-degree murder charges have a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment. The difference is parole eligibility. Had Swite been convicted of murder in the first degree, he'd have had no chance of release for 25 years.
Now, under the new indictment, Justice Josephson must decide when he is eligible for parole.
Crown prosecutor Rob Bruneau is arguing for 15 years. Defence counsel Kevin McCullough says 10 years is the appropriate sentence, arguing that the court must also take note of Swite's First Nations status.
The sides will complete their arguments tomorrow with a decision expected at a later date.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012