DAKOTA CITY - A judge ruled Thursday that a teenager accused of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery will be tried as an adult.
Michael R. Swanson, 17, of St. Louis Park, Minn., was denied a request to transfer his case to juvenile court after a hearing Thursday morning in a Humboldt County courtroom.
The hearing was closed to the public, but District Court Judge Thomas Bice issued his ruling later in the afternoon.
"For reasons stated herein, this Court rejects this assertion and FINDS that 'good cause' for referral to juvenile court has not been established," Bice wrote in his ruling.
Swanson is accused of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of Sheila Myers, of Humboldt, during an alleged robbery of the Kum & Go in Humboldt Nov. 15. He faces the same charges in Kossuth County in the death of Vicky Bowman-Hall, of Burt, who was killed earlier the same day at the Crossroads gas station in Algona.
Swanson's juvenile record, mental health and medical records were part of the evidence considered by the court.
According to Bice's ruling, testimony presented during the hearing revealed Swanson had considerable prior contact with the juvenile court system, including criminal activities - some of which were felonies - along with exposure to both drugs and weapons.
A report submitted to the court stated Swanson was involved in community-based interventions in Minnesota at least nine times, and was subjected to four out-of-home placements between July of 2006 and November of 2010. According to the ruling, many of the placements involved therapy, rehabilitation programs and drug counseling, with little or no progress noted.
"Given the complicated and serious social and criminal history given for Defendant, this Court does not believe meaningful rehabilitation could be afforded to Defendant under the Juvenile Court system given his age and the time frame for disposition noted above," Bice wrote.
The time frame referenced was one year and six months as the maximum amount of time Swanson would spend in a juvenile rehabilitation program following the resolution of his case.
Given the seriousness of Swanson's alleged crimes and history, Bice reasoned that concern for protecting the public would be best addressed in District Court rather than juvenile court.
An excerpt from juvenile court officer Ryan Reisner was included in the ruling.
"Michael poses a great danger to the community and the State Training School isn't a secure setting," Reisner wrote.
Although the transfer hearing was conducted in closed court, all future proceedings will be public.
Swanson was scheduled to go to trial in Humboldt County Feb. 16, but after waiving his right to a speedy trial a revised trial has yet to be set.
His trial in Kossuth County is set for July 27, according to Iowa Courts Online. A hearing to transfer the case in that county to juvenile court is pending.
Contact Lindsey Mutchler (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org