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Rytting says the forensic pathologists who took the stand this spring concluded that Trotter’s internal organs were not only intact but showed minimal decomposition.The medical examiner at the time was able to dissect her pancreas, he says, and was able to section her brain using a surgical knife—what is known as “loafing.” “You simply wouldn’t have been able to do this with organs from a body left out in the woods for 25 days,” says Rytting.The state’s evidence against 41-year-old Swearingen was compelling.Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen him with Melissa Trotter on the day she went missing, December 8th, 1998, from the Lone Star College-Montgomery campus in Conroe.

After his arrest for Trotter’s murder, he penned a fake letter to investigators purporting to be from her real killer in the bizarre hope it would absolve him.He had been accused of kidnapping an ex-girlfriend—an incident, he says, that stemmed from a dispute over money she’d loaned him for a horse trailer.(His girlfriend wanted the money back and told police that Swearingen had come to her house, beaten her up and held her there against her will.In his ruling, Edwards described the field of histology—the well-established science of the anatomy of tissues and cells—as a “novel scientific theory” that required proof of reliability.All of which means that Swearingen will remain on death row until the Court of Criminal Appeals makes its decision.

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