A Shelby woman will no longer travel to Lincoln County for a murder trial Monday after pleading guilty in a Cleveland County courtroom last week and being sentenced to nearly 20 years behind bars.
Kathy Lynn Swafford, of 867-30 E. Zion Church Road in Shelby, will spend between 18 and 22.5 years in a Raleigh prison for killing her 2-year-old son Jeremiah Swafford in 2009. Authorities said the boy died at an area hospital following a severe beating and several blows to the head.
The 23-year-old mother pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony child abuse on Thursday.
Swafford was slated to stand trial for first-degree murder, and if convicted of the higher charge, would have spent life in prison without parole. Authorities said they do intend to account for the three years that Swafford already spent in jail.
Swaffordâ€™s trial location was switched to Lincoln County following her late husbandâ€™s felony child abuse conviction on Jan. 30. Defense attorney Fred Flowers suggested the change due to pre-trial publicity. He also had originally been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his stepson, but was found not guilty, authorities said.
A few days after his conviction, he suffered a brain aneurysm and died inside his jail cell. He had yet to be sentenced but would have spent between six and 12 year behind bars, according to Rick Shaffer, district attorney for Cleveland and Lincoln Counties.
Several members of Swaffordâ€™s family still claim that she is innocent.