SANDPOINT — A modified criminal charge against a Priest River man accused of stabbing his wife and their unborn child to death allege a desire to torture or satisfy sadistic urges could have factored into the slayings.
Jeremy Keith Swanson is accused of perpetrating the killings with premeditation, but an updated charging document filed on March 29 alternatively alleges that the defendant meant to inflict extreme and prolonged pain on his wife either out of vengeance or to satisfy a sadistic inclination, which qualifies as torture under Idaho law.
According to state law, a death caused by torture is murder irrespective of proof of specific intent to kill.
Swanson, 27, is accused of attacking his wife with a knife and an ice pick as she lay in bed at their Harriet Street home on Dec. 18, 2012. The couple’s unborn daughter — between 15-18 weeks in utero — was also killed.
Swanson allegedly confessed to the killings when he was interviewed by Priest River Police and sheriff’s investigators. Swanson said he argued with his wife about money earlier in the day.
Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall did not immediately respond on Monday to a request for comment on the appended charging language.
Sheriff’s Det. Phil Stella testified at a prior hearing that an examination of a computer in the home revealed several incriminating Internet search histories involving how to kill somebody.
The searches, according to court document, involved methods of killing. However, the methods that were researched varied.
“Some of it was how to actually torture and how to inflict wounds that would not be life threatening so you could have the opportunity to torture for a long time. And some of the information on the website contained (advice on) how to kill instantly,” Stella testified at a probable cause hearing.
Swanson waived his right to a preliminary hearing last month and awaits arraignment in 1st District Court. He remains jailed while the case is pending.
The couple’s 18-month-old daughter was in the home when the killings occurred, but was not involved in the attack. A college fund for Gabrielle Swanson has been established at Spokane Teachers Credit Union.