Prior to the two murder trials of ChelanHigh School graduate Steven Swinford, few if any of us were aware of the victim advocacy department within the ChelanCounty Prosecutor’s Office known as the Victim Witness Program. Founded in the 1980’s the program seeks to ease the anxiety of victims and witnesses as criminal cases progress through the justice system.
Victim/Witness Coordinator Charissa Cruickshank, says she and other advocates provide support throughout a victim's experience with the court system.
Charissa and her co-workers served as advocates for the Raney family and friends throughout two criminal trials, the second of which secured a guilty verdict for Steven Swinford in the death of Paul Raney. Charissa says often the circumstances are uncomfortable, but as advocates, they are there to make the process as smooth as possible.
Jurors found Swinford guilty of second degree murder six weeks ago, and he will face Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan Thursday morning at 9am for sentencing.
Originally scheduled for sentencing on March 2nd, the sentencing hearing was postponed after Swinford’s defense attorney Jeremy Ford filed a motion for a new trial on February 27th, citing prosecutorial misconduct by Chelan County Deputy Prosecutor Doug Shay.
Judge Allan will listen to defense arguments for a retrial and will likely issue a ruling from the bench before moving o to the sentencing phase. In the unlikely event that a retrial is granted the sentencing phase would be cancelled and a new trial date would be set. However defense retrial motions are standard practice and Judge Allan would have to contradict an earlier ruling she issued during closing arguments of the murder trial in February."CLICK HERE" for Audio
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