Swartz murder bench trial begins Tuesday, will continue today


The first day of the bench trial for Scott Swartz ended without a verdict on Tuesday.

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 Swartz was living with his 78-year-old father and found him laying on the floor.

Scott Swartz’s mother and Paul Swartz’s ex-wife, Vicky Gunter, testified in court that she was the person who asked the MPD to perform a welfare check on Paul. She said she spoke with Scott Swartz on the phone that day and knew something was wrong.

Gunter said her son’s words were erratic, irrational and bizarre. She could not make “heads or tails” out of the conversation. Scott Swartz told her that his father had been lying on the floor, and he was waiting for him to get up and sit in his chair.

“He said [Paul] had been on the floor since 11:30 a.m.,” Gunter said. “Scott said he was very tired and had to go. I thought somebody needed to check it out.”

Gunter also testified that Scott Swartz had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues. She said he would get upset whenever she or Paul Swartz would try to intervene and get him help.

MPD Officer Tom Watson responded to the scene to perform the welfare check. He told Marshall County Attorney Jordan Gaffney that Paul Swartz was bloodied but still moving occasionally. He was using his elbows to try to lift himself up and place his back against the door as he laid in the bathroom door frame.

The police report states that Paul Swartz had head trauma, a broken hip, broken ribs and facial fractures caused by severe assault. Paul Swartz was taken to the hospital and died Jan. 22.

Watson testified on Tuesday during the bench trial. A video taken from his police vehicle showed Scott Swartz in the back seat talking incoherently. Watson was not in the vehicle at the time.

Gaffney asked the officer if he could understand Scott Swartz on the day of the arrest. Watson said sometimes he could, and assumed he was on drugs.

Former MPD Officer Ryan Dehl, who also responded to the crime scene, testified on Tuesday. When asked if he gave first aid to Paul Swartz, Dehl said he did not. The first thing he had to do was secure the scene and reduce any threats to Paul Swartz, himself and first responders. Dehl assured Paul Swartz an ambulance was en route.

Dehl also stated Scott Swartz was difficult to understand at times. However, Dehl said Scott Swartz told him his father was “garbage” and had been laying on the floor since 11:30 a.m. that morning.

MPD Lieutenant Sadie Weekley also testified and said baggies were found in Scott Swartz’s room with a crystal substance later identified as methamphetamine.

The trial will continue this morning at 9 a.m. inside the Marshall County Courthouse.


Contact Lana Bradstream

at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or



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