Life Sentence Prompts Family Member’s Outburst

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A sentencing hearing led to an emotional outburst in the Washington County courthouse Thursday (Jan. 16), when a Prairie Grove woman was sentenced to life in prison in the 2012 killing of a man. Heather Swain was led away in handcuffs at the Washington County courthouse.

Swain waived her right to a jury sentencing. She cried as Judge William Storey sentenced her to life in prison for being an accomplice to capital murder and 25 years for being an accomplice to kidnapping.

One of Swain's family members stood up just after the hearing and yelled generally at the court, saying the sentence had ruined Swain's life. She was led away from the area while still noticeably annoyed at authorities.

Swain had been on trial since Monday in the death of Ronnie Lee Bradley.

"Her petition has been all along that she was a victim in this case just as Ronnie was, the jury didn't agree," said Bill James, Swain’s attorney.

One of Swain’s daughter told Judge Storey he was taking a mom away from her children. Swain’s family declined to talk to on camera.

Swain’s attorney Bill James said this isn’t over.

"There definitely will be an appeal," James said. "We have some issues that we think are pretty strong, we certainly are going look at the whole record and see if there is anything else there."

Swain was found not guilty of a third charge of tampering with evidence.

"I'm grateful to the jury, they took their time, they went through the evidence and they arrived at correct conclusion based on the evidence," said John Threet, Washington County Prosecutor.

Two other suspects in the case have pleaded guilty, avoiding the death penalty. Timothy Swinford, 38, pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with an additional 30-year sentence suspended, according to court records.

On Nov. 5, his brother, Anthony Swinford, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping records show. He was sentenced to 40 years on the murder charge and an additional 40 years on the kidnapping charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively, according to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

Anthony Swinford, Timothy Swinford, Swain and James Patton were arrested on suspicion of capital murder and kidnapping in December 2012. In January 2013, they pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in the Washington County Detention Center.

The next court date for Patton has not been set, officials said.

Bradley, a Prairie Grove resident described by neighbors as disabled, was beaten to death while the suspects took turns driving and punching and choking him, according to a preliminary report from the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office. Bradley lived on Cleveland Street in Prairie Grove. The car in his driveway has a license plate for disabled drivers.

Bradley told the suspects several times during the beating, “Please take me home,” the report states.

The Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 27 of a male body being discovered in the unpaved driveway of a chicken farm at 17409 Four Corner Road, records show. Responders determined the body was Bradley’s. He was declared dead at the scene, officials said.

In an interview with authorities, Anthony Swinford said he beat the victim and left him in the driveway. He also implicated Swain, Patton and Timothy Swinford as accomplices, court records show.

Anthony Swinford also rode along with investigators and pointed out the incident locations, according to a preliminary report.

Swain cleaned up the evidence after the suspects dropped Bradley off in a driveway, a report states. She also faces a charge of tampering with evidence.

Investigators recovered bloody clothing and the vehicle used in the crime, according to the preliminary report. The suspects had marks on them that suggested they were involved in an altercation, a report states.

Three of the four suspects admitted to taking part in the beating, deputies said. Their admissions were backed up by witness statements, video evidence and physical evidence taken from the vehicle and the suspects’ homes, a report states.

The suspected murder came fewer than two weeks after Patton was arrested by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of third-degree domestic battery. He was also arrested and convicted of domestic battery in 2008 and a previous charge of assault on a family member.

All the suspects have a criminal history. Swain has previously been arrested in connection with domestic battery, possession of a controlled substance and driving while intoxicated. Anthony Swinford has a criminal history that includes charges of aggravated assault, possession of a controlled substance, domestic battery, breaking and entering, theft, commercial burglary, terroristic threatening and violation of a protection order. Timothy Swinford’s history includes arrests on suspicion of domestic battery, endangering the welfare of a minor and driving while intoxicated.


    • C

      She is not an it she is a human being only God almighty has the right to judge you don’t know what happened that night you were not there I hope God will judge you in the same way you are judging her

  • BevAnn

    Did they know Mr. Bradley? How or why did they pick him, and why in the world would they do this to him? I’m just lost as to a motive? Just for kicks?? How awful, what this poor man went through! Hope none of the 4 ever see freedom again!

  • sparta

    She deserved the death penalty but this will do.may karma kick your a** for the rest of your life. Ronnie was awesome. Kind ,caring,disabled but full of love and a huge smile. Guess James Patton should beg for a plea bargain.the taxpayers have paid so much and will be paying for the rest of their lives.what Ronnie would give to have gotten a second chance so if that’s the price of justice so be it.

      • sparta

        To you who hopes I get judged by god,I am a Pentecostal. Since birth I knew I would be judged and if I ever do something like this I know what my judgement would be. I would spend eternity in hell. On this earth the judgement was made by those 4 that night and her judgement on this earth has been decided.why don’t you spend 6 plus hours imaging being hit,choked,punched,strangled when he could barely walk or get up and down before that night?then thrown out minus your clothes in 10 degree weather like let’s not worry about that though because no one wants to think about those things.enou people have defended the murderers so let’s here it for the victim.Ronnie we love you.

  • Retired

    I hope her stinky A** rots in prison and then rots in Hell….she is one bad person and the judge got this sentence right. She will have to think about how she is responsible for never seeing her kids outside of prison again. Hope she loses her appeal

    • C

      No one knows her here you don’t know her God is the true judge I hope and pray the truth will come out and she will be set free and she willget to be wwith her kids I hope God judges you the way you judge her

      • Retired

        She has already been judged….see article above. I had nothing to do with it, I’m just glad she was “judged” guilty by the judge. It is amazing to me that so many people who are defending the “guilty” use “God”. My response is, “they should have been thinking and abiding by many scriptures before they killed this man”.

  • C

    You don’t know her or the details she never laid a hand on the man let God judge every one who judges her here. I hope and pray she gets an appeal and walks free

  • Lincolnite

    She has been judged by man, and found guilty. Her judgement by God will be much harsher! She is not a victim! I do know her, her family, and the other folks involved, and SHE forfeited her rights as a citizen of the free world when she allowed a man to be murdered in her presence, and did nothing to stop it! And I truly feel for her children, I do, but she left her kids and her husband to carry on an affair with James Patton!!! She’s just not a very good person! The appeals will come up short, and she will never be able to trouble the folks of NWA forevermore!

    • d

      Well all I have to say is yes she did wrong and should have come forward to begin with. She is my family but don’t get what I say wrong. I love her and will support her. She will be judged by god when the time comes. But to be persecuted by people who don’t know her and was not there to try her at her trial is wrong. I for one knew she would be convicted cause she was acting stupidly. You can say wrong place wrong time. There are parts of the conviction I don’t understand but its not my place. I don’t know what happened that night for sure and neither do any of you. The only people that can say for sure is god and the victim.

    • sparta

      Amen.I also know all of them and lots she’s done she’s gotten away with in life.judgement says not anymore.5 people with kids won’t have parents anymore.the only one that didn’t choose that was Ronnie.I also feel bad for Steve.I’m sure this was hard and I pray he gets some peace when he gets home to be the dad they need.

    • amazed

      I read these post and I’m amazed at how unforgiving people are. And here is anews flash for you not everything you here on the news is fact or presented fairly it is for ratings. I have known this woman many years. I dont believe for one minute that had she known this would be the outcome that she would have left the bar with those men. Your going to tell me that asa small what maybe 140 lb woman you would be able to stand up against 3 grown men so wound up that they are beating a man to death in front of you? I seriously doubt it! Your going to pray silently for God to stop this a save this man. As for her husband and children. He was far from perfect in their marriage either. Lots of ups & downs split ups & reconciliations .

  • d

    I’m not taking a side at all, just wondering why she got life & the two men got 40 years, I think it said. Just curious.

    • sparta

      She got the sentence she received for the same reason they always do.everyone could have saved taxpayers and humanity by taking plea bargain.less time less money and no one hears the horrible things you did.if you choose not to work with prosecutor on plea its up to a judge and jury.just like the rest of her life she just rolled the dice. And list fair and square.appeals is just a waste.ironclad on this one

  • d

    They made a plea agreement and she would have got less if she would have. They offered much less than what she got but wouldn’t take it. And as far as feeling sorry for her husband I for one do not. If he wouldn’t have cheated she would have been with patton. The ones I truly feel sorry for is her mom and the kids. I know it is easy to place blame but and you can say if she hadn’t taken her fathers death so hard and if her husband hadn’t of cheated but the four are to blame and that may have sounded cold but not meant to. I just know that her dad, and grandparents are looking down and are very disappointed.

  • love

    I hope they all get the hell beat out them while they are in prison just so they know what that poor man went through.

  • a

    Whoever d is you are not part of the family. Enough is enough.Please have respect to her kids and family. She has a right to a fair trial. Let it be.

  • love

    She is the one that done this to her self. Hell she has other charges on her from Prairie grove as well. They should just tack that on to her prison time to.

  • AGT C

    If Swaim is so innocent and had nothing to with the beating then why did she not call police and turn the guys in for beating the man and a disabled man at that.Why did she not try to stop the beating or get out of car and report to police?Guilty by association and for watching a man get beat to death and did nothing to save the man.The lady was given a fair jury trial and lost so now she does then time.Old saying if you dont want the time don’t do the crime.People need to learn to take responsibility for themselves and use their brain!

  • Cleta

    A lesson to everyone: Be careful who you choose to be friend with and hang out with. Old saying holds true: Birds of a feather, flock together.

  • love

    Steve Swain isn’t any better. Hell he likes to teach his kids and others how to build bombs and gives them drugs. What kind of father would do that. The kids are better off with their grandmother.

  • sparta

    Hey amazed I’m very unforgiving.How can you think of forguveness now? Ronnie was my stepdad some years ago.He was an only child and his parents have died in the last10 years.I would have been at trial but I was sure I couldn’t control my tears.She had a phone that she used all night.She drove to open businesses and went in peoples homes while he’s dying.She is so guilty.Now ronnie actually wanted to help amy who was beaten by anthony swinford slong with her teen boys.He us prescribed medication forbpain.She had a drug problem and her dying had nothing to do with ronnie.If u want drugs you’ll find them.Now I’m sick of hearing steve was so bad.Heather cheated on him the whole time.Last time he went to jail she was cheating with his best friend who was and is married.Shes a drunk meth head too.Ronnie could not have fought back.She knew it.Ronnie lived 1 block from prairiegrove police department.this garbage hadv every chance there was to make a life saving decision.She couldve saved hers too but she didn’t.When steve needed people to testify at his first trial ever myself and all my teenage friends sat outside the old courthouse everyday until our names were called.Most ironic is ronnie took us and sat in parking lot all day everyday because we weren’t old enough to drive and he was my stepdad.Hevsaid as long as we believed in steve he did too.That was ronnie.Steve needs to get his head in little straighter because now he is the kids only parent and he coukdve been ronnie and dead or heather and life.Thankful is what I’m hoping for steve.Ronnie taking in a beaten women was his big heart.Now hes dead because of heather.She is the beginning and end of this.Ronnie is the victim.Heather us hine.The end

  • sparta

    Btw steve has taken lots of charges that belong to heather also but he took them.If she had been with her kids the last year then maybe her kids wouldnt have gotten in trouble then steve wouldnt be in jail.Too busy partying elsewhere.Peolple say because she wasnt with steve she was with james likevsaying that’s the only 2 guysvin she picked him over her children.You speak of marriage with kids has been ups andvdowns for 20 YEARS.IT is a hard job but it would never be an excuse to kill helpless people.what the hell? My stomach literally flips and is inbknots with violencecaround duecto having it in my past.I couldntceven watch 10 minutes of heather getting beat and she so deserves it.I wouldn’t stop and get beer andvsnacks in public for intermission like a murder movie marathon.Real blood.Real screams.Real human.Thats why I could never watch u be beaten to a pulp because I’m a woman, human being, and a mother.YOU ARE NOT.I have heard everyone blamed except the murderers.It is time.She was shipped to prison Jan.28.Thank you washington county

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