10/03/07 — Attorney wants IQ numbers for suspect in 2005 murder

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Attorney wants IQ numbers for suspect in 2005 murder

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 3, 2007 2:25 PM

A man accused of a summer 2005 murder in Mount Olive needs an evaluation to see if he is intelligent enough to stand trial, his court-appointed attorney says.

Richard Lee Swinson, 27, had been scheduled for arraignment Tuesday before Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell.

He is charged in connection with the death of Goldsboro resident Jennifer Louise McArthur of Fairview Circle on June 30, 2005, according to Mount Olive police reports.

The shooting took place around 2:15 a.m., when Swinson allegedly fired rounds into an apartment on Daly Boulevard. Miss McArthur was hit by one of the shots, police said.

She was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

According to an online court docket, Swinson faces a first-degree murder charge, two counts of discharging a weapon into occupied property and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Swinson evaded the law until late March of 2006, when he was arrested under an alias in Prince George's County, Md.

Police ran his prints and found they matched up with the Mount Olive murder suspect, police said.

Proceedings were continued to Nov. 6 to allow more time to find documents that might show Swinson's Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score before the age of 18, court-appointed attorney David Sutton said.

Sutton said prior records from a previous incarceration might be "in some huge warehouse in Raleigh" and might show Swinson's pre-adulthood intelligence level.

In capital cases -- cases where the death penalty is a possible -- the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that death is not a suitable punishment for mentally retarded individuals.

Swinson does not face the death penalty, Sutton said, but the documents could have impact on his sentencing, should it happen, or on whether he is competent to stand trial.

"We have some questions about what his intelligence level is," Sutton said. "We believe that there may be some old records from when he was locked up years ago."

Sutton said he and prosecutors had been able to determine that Sutton was involved in special education classes intended for youths with developmental disabilities.

Some records from when Swinson attended those classes may since have been destroyed under guidelines for their upkeep, Sutton said.

The public defender said if and when he does obtain the records he is looking for, he will have Swinson undergo psychological analysis.

"When I get these records, he is going to be examined, and they will issue some sort of report," Sutton said.

That report may be a mitigating factor in sentencing if it occurs, or on whether Swinson is deemed competent to stand trial, the attorney said.

District Attorney Branny Vickory did not immediately return a phone call for comment.