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October 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dive Shop Owner Convicted of Killing Wife Underwater is Set Free

from the October, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We wrote a few big stories about David Swain, a Rhode Island dive shop owner convicted in October 2009 of killing his wife a decade earlier during a dive trip in the British Virgin Islands (see our April 2006 and January 2010 issues). After serving two years of his 25-year sentence, Swain was freed from a Tortola jail on September 29 after the verdict was overturned.

A panel of three judges with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal found problems with the jury instructions read by a judge during the trial. Swain's defense attorney had argued that the judge did not adequately advise the jury on how to handle evidence from a 2006 civil suit in Rhode Island, in which the jury held Swain responsible for the death of his wife, Shelley Tyre, and awarded Tyre's family $3.5 million. The appeals court also declined to order a new trial because of concerns about recalling defense witnesses given the amount of time that has passed since Tyre's death

"I feel elated," Swain told reporters as he walked out of the jail. He said he intends to "breathe a little free air, go for a walk, go home, pick up the pieces and go on."

J. Renn Olenn, a lawyer representing Tyre's parents, held a news conference that same day to say that even though the conviction had been overturned, it didn't mean Swain was exonerated. "No judicial body has declared him innocent, and two different juries have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

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