Swanson receives life sentence in stabbing deaths

Double homicide continues to baffle

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This story was updated on Sept. 13 to more accurately reflect Swanson's job title at Thorne Research.

SANDPOINT — A Priest River man was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole for an inexplicable stabbing that left both his pregnant wife and their unborn daughter dead.

Jeremy Keith Swanson, 28, displayed no visible reaction when 1st District Judge Benjamin R. Simpson imposed the sentence.

Swanson declined to address the court before the sentence was announced.

“I’m sorry,” Simpson said to Swanson. “I don’t see anything else to do under these circumstances.”

Swanson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for repeatedly stabbing his wife, Jennifer, as she lay in bed at their Priest River home on Dec. 18, 2012.

Swanson entered into a plea agreement with the state which stepped down the fetal first-degree murder charge to murder in the second degree. In exchange for the pleas, the prosecution agreed not to seek charge enhancements or the death penalty.

The gruesome crime continues to baffle family members, psychologists, the court and even the defendant.

The couple was already raising a 20-month-old daughter and struggled financially and with their relationship, although family members were helping them with a place to live and keeping vehicles running. Jeremy Swanson was employed as an ecapsulation machine operator at dietary supplement manufacturer Thorne Research in Dover.

But despite those circumstances, Swanson clocked out of work, drove to Priest River and purchased an ice pick at a local hardware store.

Jeremy Swanson told investigators he argued with his 27-year-old wife before she ultimately retired to their bedroom. Swanson later attacked her with the ice pick and a kitchen knife.

Grieving family members tearfully recalled the light Jennifer brought into their lives, puzzlement over Jeremy’s decision not to reach out or leave, and the devastation of losing a loved one.

“I don’t hate you. I hate what you did,” said Jennifer’s mother, Becky Bosch.

Jennifer’s sister, Gwendolyn, told Jeremy Swanson that he killed one of the only people who loved him unconditionally.

“You don’t deserve the memories Jennifer gave you,” she said. “In my opinion you shouldn’t see the light of day because Jennifer won’t see daylight again.”

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall recommended a life sentence without possibility of parole due to the ferocious and premeditated nature of the attack, in which Jennifer was stabbed 37 times.

“There’s no way to put a meaning on the evil that occurred that night in December,” said Marshall.

Two doctors who examined Jeremy Swanson were also at a loss to explain his actions, Simpson noted. Swanson was diagnosed with major depression and may have had a psychotic break during the killings.

But he did not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Swanson also lacked a prior criminal history or chemical dependence issues.

Swanson was in a disassociated state and that he watched the killings from a third-person perspective and was powerless to stop them, Bonner County Public Defender Janet Whitney said.

“Mister Swanson in no way wants to give the impression to the court or to anybody that this in any way excuses what he’s done,” said Whitney. “He has no excuses and finds it unfathomable.”

Simpson said one of the doctors concluded that Swanson presented a high risk to the public and found that the case was one of clear premeditation.

“These two crimes were committed with unspeakable violence,” said Simpson. “I don’t find any reasonable probability that you’re going to be rehabilitated.”

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