A federal jury in Asheville convicted Shane McKinley Swimmer, 21, of Cherokee of second-degree murder last Thursday announced William Stetzer, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the three-day trial.

According to filed court documents, trial evidence and witness testimony, on Nov. 10, 2018, Swimmer and his uncle, Charles Ray “Chino” West, were at his uncle’s residence on Rocky Knob Trail in Swain County, which is within the boundaries of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reservation.

Trial evidence established that shortly before 7 p.m., Swimmer attacked his uncle with a baseball bat, striking the victim in the head at least nine times. The victim died as a result of his injuries. Following the attack, Swimmer went to another family member’s house nearby and announced that the victim was dead before calling 911. Officers with the Cherokee Indian Police Department arrested Swimmer shortly thereafter.

Swimmer remains in federal custody. The second-degree murder charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison. A sentencing date for Swimmer has not been set.

In making the announcement Stetzer thanked the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigation of the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pritchard and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Solheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.

Solheim is a state prosecutor with the office of the 30th Prosecutorial District and was assigned by District Attorney Ashley Welch to serve as SAUSA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.