Murder suspect changes plea

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2003

A man who pleaded guilty to capital murder in October wants to change his plea.

According to Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ed Greene, Ricardo Donta Swift, 23, filed a motion for a new trial, which was received by the circuit clerk’s office this past week. A hearing on the motion is expected in the new year.

Swift pleaded guilty to the capital murder of Rudolph Lewellen Oct. 14. He received a life sentence, but has the chance of parole. Swift is currently in the state penitentiary.

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Greene noted that Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins could rule on the motion at the hearing. If Wiggins accepted the motion, Swift’s plea would be set aside and he could receive a new trial. If he denied the motion, Swift would have the option of appealing.

Local attorney Kyra Sparks was appointed as Swift’s attorney last week and hadn’t yet spoken with her client. &uot;He is trying to say that he didn’t understand the plea,&uot; she said.

According to Sparks, Swift currently has a chance of being paroled, though that won’t become an option for several years. If convicted of capital murder by a jury, Swift would have faced either life in jail without parole or death.

Sparks added that it was possible Swift could be tried for capital murder if his plea was set aside. &uot;I just need to talk to him,&uot; she added. Swift’s guilty plea stemmed from an incident in 2001. On Sept. 2, 2001, Lewellen said he was approaching his vehicle at 2:30 p.m. when two males approached him. One attacked and took his wallet, which had $60. Lewellen then got shot. Lewellen died Sept. 30, 2001, at the Selma Regional Medical Center.