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Swadley changes his plea to guilty in Vernon County Circuit Court

VERNON COUNTY - After spending about a year-and-a-half in jail awaiting trial on an attempted first-degree murder charge, Shayne Swadley changed his plea to guilty at a hearing in Vernon County Circuit Court on Friday, Nov. 17.

When the 24-year-old rural Readstown resident changed his plea to guilty on the attempted murder charge, a second charge of first-degree reckless injury was dropped as part of a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution.

Swadley is accused of stabbing 46-year-old Christine Michelle Mazilauskas in a trailer located at Pine Crest II Mobile Home Park on Highway 35 in DeSoto. The incident took place during the early morning hours of Thursday, May 26, 2016.

The case gained some notoriety at the time, when it was revealed that Swadley allegedly told Vernon County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Investigator Scott Bjerkos that he stabbed the woman because “he wanted to see what it felt like to stab someone.”

Authorities said then that they believed Swadley was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine when the incident took place.

As part of the plea agreement announced recently, the defense and prosecution also agreed to recommend a bifurcated sentence that included 20.5 years of incarceration and 10 years of extended supervision. 

However, Judge William Andrew Sharp declined to accept the sentence recommendation of the plea agreement at the hearing and ordered an abbreviated Pre-Sentence Investigation be completed by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. In ordering the PSI, court records indicated that the judge was not looking for a sentence recommendation from the DOC nor would it be necessary for DOC personnel to testify at the sentencing hearing. The PSI is due January 12, 2018.

Reached later to explain the status of the plea agreement, Vernon County District Attorney Tim Gaskell noted the judge was not bound by sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement. The judge could sentence above or below the recommendations of the plea agreement, according to the district attorney.

Gaskell said it appeared Sharp wanted more background information on Swadley prior to the sentencing. Richland County Circuit Court Judge William Andrew Sharp is the substitute judge in this Vernon County case.

According to Wisconsin Circuit Courts System records, Shayne Swadley’s first conviction was for misdemeanor disorderly conduct in 2012-he was 18 years old at the time.

Swadley was convicted of two felonies in 2014, when he pled guilty to negligent operation of a motor vehicle and hit and run. He also has seven traffic charges and two bail jumping charges on his record.