State, defense cases rest in Swartz murder trial


The Scott Swartz murder bench trial was adjourned Friday without closing arguments or a verdict.

Scott Swartz, 47, is accused of murdering his father, Paul Swartz, in January of 2023. On Jan. 7, the Marshalltown Police Department (MPD) was dispatched to the residence where Scott Swartz was living with his 78-year-old father and found Paul Swartz lying on the floor.

The police report indicated that Paul Swartz had head trauma, a broken hip, broken ribs and facial fractures caused by severe assault. He was taken to the UnityPoint Hospital in Marshalltown and later transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where he died Jan. 22.

An autopsy on Paul Swartz died of complications caused by blunt force injuries in a manner determined to be a homicide. Injuries including a laceration, bruising and contusions in his scalp, were found, along with a broken femur as a result of blunt force trauma.

Scott Swartz was asked by Judge John Haney whether or not he was going to testify on his behalf. The defendant told Haney he chose not to. The focus of the trial on Friday was whether or not Scott Swartz was insane at the time of Paul Swartz’s death.

Psychologist Dr. Luis Rosell testified on behalf of the defense. After talking to Scott Swartz and reviewing records, Rosell determined him to be schizophrenic. He testified that Scott Swartz said he had a volatile relationship and a history of violence with his father. They were together for an extended period of time, and before Paul Swartz died, Scott Swartz said he was obsessed with firearms and watching news about the war — something they frequently argued about.

Scott Swartz told Rosell Paul Swartz hit him during his childhood years, but played it off as not a big deal.

“[During] the more recent time together, [Scott Swartz] said his dad hit him, but he did not hit back,” Rosell said. “This time, he did.”

It was Rosell’s opinion that Scott Swartz’s use of methamphetamine exacerbated his mental condition. Psychologist Dr. Rosanna Jones-Thurman testified for the state, and determined that Scott Swartz meets criteria for antisocial personality disorder and an unspecified mood disorder, but was sane at the time of the crime.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Keisha Cretsinger asked Jones-Thurman how she came to that conclusion. Jones-Thurman interviewed Scott Swartz, reviewed case and previous mental health records, Scott Swartz’s history of behavior in prison and the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, his substance abuse history and past crimes committed. She said that normally, people are diagnosed with schizophrenia between the ages of 18 and 22. Scott Swartz was diagnosed when he was 37.

She does not believe Scott Swartz had a psychotic episode on Jan. 7, 2023 because he was able to function and talk to his mother on the phone hours after the incident. Jones-Thurman also said that Scott Swartz was able to recall what happened and develop an excuse, but pointed out that some details of his story changed with different people.

Cretsinger asked if the damage Scott Swartz caused at the MPD was an indication of a psychotic episode. Jones-Thurman told her it was not, but rather his anger at being in custody.

Cretsinger also asked if Scott Swartz continued his behavioral outbursts at the Marshall County Jail after being placed on medication in March. Jones-Thurman said he displayed aggression and defiance and created messes. That behavior did not abate until after he met with Rosell in July or August, she said. That would suggest a conscious decision, not a change caused by medication.

After Jones-Thurman got off the stand, defense attorney Ted Fisher called Rosell back to address her assessment. Rosell said Jones-Thurman disregarded Scott Swartz’s medical diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and only considered his drug use.

Haney adjourned the trial and told the prosecution and defense they had 10 days to submit written closing arguments.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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