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Death Row Inmate Swearingen exposed for convincing Shore to take murder blame

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On the eve of his scheduled execution, death row inmate Anthony Allen
Shore told Montgomery County district attorney’s investigators that fellow death row inmate Larry Ray Swearingen attempted to persuade Shore to take responsibility for the murder of Melissa Trotter—the crime for which Swearingen is scheduled to be executed on November 16, 2017.

Shore told chief investigator Chris Smith and assistant chief investigator John Stephenson that Shore conspired with Swearingen to take responsibility for Melissa Trotter’s murder, but had a change of heart shortly before the date upon which Shore was sentenced to die, and decided to tell the truth and expose Swearingen’s scheme. Shore identified a map found in Shore’s death row cell as one of the items Swearingen gave Shore in an effort to enable him to make a convincing admission of Trotter’s murder.

In the interview conducted at the Polunsky unit on October 17, 2017, Shore said he initially refused Swearingen’s request that he take responsibility for Trotter’s murder, but eventually became friends with Swearingen and agreed to try to exonerate Swearingen of the crime as a favor to Swearingen. He said that Swearingen gave him a hand-drawn map of the location where Swearingen had left physical evidence of the murder of Melissa Trotter.

Shore’s revelation came shortly after Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon asked Governor Greg Abbott to grant Shore a single thirty-day reprieve, in order to allow Ligon to complete an investigation of the materials found in Shore’s cell on death row at the Polunsky Unit. That request remains pending at this time.

On July 21, 2017, representatives of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducted an inventory of the contents of Shore’s cell, in anticipation of a potential claim regarding Shore’s mental health. They discovered a folder containing approximately ten items pertaining to the murder of Melissa Trotter, including copies of court exhibits and scene photographs; a hand-drawn page of a calendar for the month of December 1998 with handwritten notations regarding weather conditions; and a hand-drawn map which appears to depict the location where Melissa Trotter’s body was found. The handwriting on the map is dissimilar to Shore’s distinctive handwriting, but bears similarities to Swearingen’s handwriting.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office informed the Montgomery
County District Attorney of the discovery of the material in Shore’s cell on September 1, 2017—after the District Court for the Ninth Judicial District issued an order setting an execution date for Swearingen.

District Attorney Brett Ligon immediately commenced an investigation that led to an interview with a woman who had visited Shore at the Polunsky Unit. She said that Shore told her that he expected to take responsibility for Melissa Trotter’s murder shortly before Shore’s execution. She also said that Shore was aware of the location of physical evidence pertaining to Trotter’s murder.

Upon receiving that information, on October 16, 2017, Ligon asked the
governor to grant Shore a thirty-day reprieve, in order to allow Ligon time to complete the investigation while Shore was still available to be interviewed.

Ligon does not plan on commenting further on this ongoing investigation until any legal proceedings pertaining to Shore’s execution have been resolved.

Source: J. Tyler Dunman, Assistant District Attorney, Chief, Special Crimes Bureau, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office

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