Jurors spent much of the second day of Shane Bailey’s trial watching a video of Bailey talking to Sherman Police Department personnel. Bailey is charged with the murder of his long-time girlfriend, Sarah Swaim,
Ms. Swaim’s battered, bloodied body was found on Feb. 8 at a piece of property just outside of Denison by two men who worked with Bailey.
Jurors spent the rest of the day looking at photos of evidence prosecutors claim proves that Bailey beat the young mother and choked her to death in the home they shared together in Sherman.
During his statements to police, Bailey repeatedly said Ms. Swaim left their house at a trailer home park in Sherman after an evening of doing shots turned into an argument over finances. He said as his head hit the pillow, he heard the door slam and thought she was just going down the street.
Jurors also heard, Tuesday, from people who lived near the young couple at the park. Neighbors told stories of loud, profane arguments that erupted in the wee hours of the night and repeated calls to the police.
Cecelia Howe said she lived near the couple and used to occasionally speak to Ms. Swaim but didn’t know her well. What Howe did know, she said, was the couple’s relationship troubles.
“You could hear him scream at her in the middle of the street,” Howe said. She said she once saw Bailey scream at the mother of his two youngest children in the middle of the street at 3 a.m.
“I had had enough,” the woman told prosecutors and the jury. She said another time she looked outside to find out what all of the noise was about and saw that Bailey had Ms. Swaim by the hair and appeared to be attempting to drag her back into the house. Ms. Swaim, Howe said, was pregnant at the time.
“I ran out and got in his face,” she said. Howe said Bailey backed down and went into the house, and Ms. Swaim walked away.
After that, Howe said, Ms. Swaim wouldn’t “even raise her head or look at me.”
Howe said she saw Ms. Swaim wearing black and blue bruises and a split lip.
Another person who noted differences in the way Ms. Swaim acted when she was alone verses the way she acted with Bailey was Court Appointed Special Advocate Pam Silva. Silva was monitoring the couple’s attempt to get custody of their infant son and said she stopped by their home on Wednesday, Feb. 6, to check on their progress. Prosecutors say Silva may have been the last person outside the Bailey-Swaim home to see the young mother alive.
Silva said she felt uncomfortable the entire time she was in the couple’s home and that Ms. Swaim never spoke to her or even really acknowledged that she was there. Bailey spoke and talked about moving beds from one room to another.
The CASA worker said she was surprised when she pulled up to the home and saw Bailey’s van outside because it was 1:30 in the afternoon. When she went inside, she said, Ms. Swaim was folding laundry in the living room.
Silva said it was strange that Ms. Swaim didn’t speak because in their previous meetings the young woman had been talkative about the couple’s plans to put their family back together. They had achieved part of their goal and their 2-year-old daughter was sitting in her highchair eating when Silva walked into the home.
Silva said the meal looked like some sort of hamburger dish “that seemed inappropriate for her age,” and that it seemed to have been sitting out for a while. She said while she was there, Ms. Swaim walked over and took the food away from the child and replaced it with a frozen dinner that seemed more appropriate.
Silva said Bailey never said a word about Ms. Swaim’s actions. The CASA worker then agreed with prosecutor Matt Johnson’s characterization of the stare Bailey shot Ms. Swaim as “a glare.”
Bailey’s attorney Rick Dunn asked if that was the first time Silva had ever spoken to Bailey and the CASA worker said she had met him a few times when the couple had supervised visits with their child, but they hadn’t really talked until that day.
Silva said Ms. Swaim was alive and well when Silva left the home. A little more than 24 hours later, Bailey was calling people saying that he didn’t know where Ms. Swaim was and talking to police.
He was also apparently talking to his boss. Prosecutors Kerye Ashmore and Johnson put Bobby Tate on the stand and asked him about a phone call he got from Bailey. Tate said Bailey had worked for him for about eight months when he called Tate and asked about dumping some old carpet on Tate’s property to be burned along with other debris from Tate’s profession as a painting contractor. Tate said he told Bailey to come by and pick up the keys to the gate at the property but to leave the gate open because Tate and another employee would be there shortly.
Tate said when he arrived, he saw Bailey near some old carpet but didn’t think much about it. Tate said when Bailey was finished he met up with Tate and the other man and chatted.
“He asked when we were going to have some more work,” Tate said. He added that Bailey appeared “as normal as ever” during their conversation.
Tate said it was the next day that Bailey called looking for Ms. Swaim. Tate said he and the other man were going out to the property anyway, so they decided to take a look at that roll of carpet Bailey had left there.
When asked what made him think to do that, Tate said hearing about a missing person and seeing a rolled up carpet left in the burn pile within a few hours of each other just didn’t add up to anything good in his head. “I didn’t expect to find anything,” he said.
His expectations weren’t correct. Tate said when he and the other man pulled back the carpet they could see part of Ms. Swaim’s body.
Tate said he told the man to cover her back up and call 9-1-1.
Dunn asked Tate if he had ever seen Ms. Swaim alive, and the painter said he had a number of times. The defense attorney asked if the young woman had looked battered or bruised on those occasions, and Tate said he never saw any injuries. He also said he never saw a violent side to Bailey.
The last half of the Tuesday’s court session, jurors spent alternating between the jury box and the waiting room as prosecutors introduced boxes of evidence taken from the home the young couple shared. Some of that evidence included photos of walls splattered with chemicals that prosecutors said indicated there had been blood there that someone had attempted to clean away. Other pieces of evidence included chunks of the mattress the couple slept on and pieces of carpet removed from the home as well as towels and clothes found in the couple’s laundry room. All of those items also tested positive for blood, prosecutors said.
Dunn asked if there was any way to tell how long any of that blood at been in the home. Detective Riley Day said the blood found on a piece of fabric looked fresh.
Dunn reminded the jury that the couple had lived in the house for 13 or 14 months and asked Day if he could tell if the blood found was “from some violent murder on Feb. 7”or anything else.
Day admitted that the police don’t have a way of dating the blood samples found in the home. But he said his training as a police officer made him think it was not old blood when he took the whole scene in at one time.
The case resumes Wednesday in the 15th state District Court with Judge Jim Fallon presiding.