MI Supreme Court hears Lorinda Swain sex abuse case

Posted at 2:46 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 20:38:16-04

LANSING, Mich. — Convicted of molesting her adopted son more than a decade ago, a Calhoun County mother's fate now rests in the hands of judges in the state's highest court.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments that Lorinda Swain is entitled to a new trial. Swain, convicted in 2002 of criminal sexual conduct, has maintained her innocence while her sons have since recanted their statements about the abuse.

Swain has served eight years of a 25-50 year prison sentence following her release five years ago after she was originally granted a new trial. An appeals court later overturned that decision sending the case to the Michigan Supreme Court. Swain has remained free on bond since.

Swain's attorneys argued on Wednesday that new evidence discovered in the case since her conviction is enough to warrant a new trial.

David Moran, Swain's attorney, told state justices that Swain's ex-boyfriend, Dennis Book, can testify to her innocence. Moran said Book had previously told a police detective he never saw any abuse and would've turned Swain in himself if it had been happening.

The claims raised new questions in court Wednesday over why such a witness—who supposedly was the only other adult regularly in the house—was never called to testify during the original trial.

"I’m trying to understand how it is a live-in lover who was there during the mornings was newly discovered as a defendant," asked Chief Justice Robert Young.

Attorneys for the state argued the validity of the newly-claimed evidence. Calhoun County assistant prosecutor Jennifer Kay Clark told the court the case is beyond appeal because the presumption of innocence is gone after the jury’s verdict.

Clark said Book was well known at the time of the trial and the defense chose not to have him testify. Swain's attorneys deny those allegations, saying the prosecution never disclosed the information.

All the while, Swain has maintained her innocence.

"My freedom's at stake," Swain had previously told FOX 17. "I’m innocent, God knows I'm innocent, and I should be able to stay out, but I'm very worried and concerned."

A decision in the case is expected to be made by summer. If Swain is again denied a new trial she would return to prison to finish her sentence.