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Cherokee man receives 30 years for 2018 murder

Cherokee man receives 30 years for 2018 murder

A Cherokee man was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder by a federal jury. Shane McKinley Swimmer, 22, will also have to serve eight years of supervised probation following his release from 365 months in prison.

Swimmer, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, committed the murder on Nov. 10, 2018, when he was at the home of his uncle Charles Ray “Chino” West on Rocky Knob Trail in Swain County. Trial evidence established that shortly before 7 p.m., Swimmer attacked his uncle with a baseball bat, striking him in the head multiple times. Afterward, Swimmer went to a nearby family member’s home and announced that West was dead before calling 911. Officers with the Cherokee Indian Police Department arrested Swimmer shortly thereafter.

According to witness testimony, West was struck between eight and 30 times, sustaining massive brain injuries. His official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

“Swimmer’s unprovoked and brutal attack caused the victim’s violent and untimely death,” said U.S. Attorney Dena J. King. “I commend the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigative efforts in this case, which led to today’s lengthy sentence.”

An obituary published in The Cherokee One Feather describes West, 39, as a master carpenter and roofer who was “one of the most genuine, kind, absolutely hilarious and coolest people to be around.” West left behind a wife and two children.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Pritchard and Alexis Solheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.

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Swimmer remains in federal custody. He will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.


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