Follow Us

A woman took the stand Tuesday to tell a jury that when she found her sister’s body in a pool of blood in March 2015, she screamed.

Robert Swanton, 32, is facing life in prison after police say he stabbed Melissa Hansen to death on March 7, 2015, in her apartment on on Erie Street. His trial got underway Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint against him, Hansen’s mother and sister went to her apartment on March 8 when they couldn’t get her on the phone.

During a search of her apartment for evidence, police found a bloody knife and clothes with both Hansen’s blood and Swanton’s DNA the complaint reads. Swanton and Hansen were reportedly friends, but there was a message on Hansen’s cell phone from Swanton that read, “If you don’t answer the phone, I’m going to come looking for you.”

Swanton’s defense attorney stated during opening statements that his client would testify under oath that he killed Hansen in self defense, a story in The Journal Times reads.

“He’ll say on the stand that he perceived the victim … at some point was in league with people outside, and the people outside told him to kill her,” Attorney Michael Plaisted is quoted as saying.

Prosecutors tell a different story, though, the newspaper report continues, and say Swanton feared Hansen was setting him up so he killed her.

“He admitted to stabbing her,” Assistant District Attorney Dirk Jensen told the jury. “He believed she was trying to set him up.”

Swanton was found lying in the street at Marquette and Thunderbird drive at 2:51 a.m. March 7, which investigators believe was just after Hansen’s death, the complaint reads. Wearing a t-shirt and no coat, Swanton was “cold to the touch and very wet.” Rescue staff from the Racine Fire Department took Swanton to the emergency room, but he wasn’t responsive to their questions.

He was not taken into custody until April 10 when results from the state crime lab confirmed his DNA on a number of items.

The trial continues Wednesday. Swanton remains in the Racine County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.

One reply on “Swanton Murder Trial Underway Tuesday”