Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Reporter Photographer 

Motion for new trial in Schwan case

 


A motion for a new trial and evidentiary hearing has been filed in a case against Matthew Schwan, who on March 15 was found guilty of aggravated homicide by vehicle, in the death of Reilly Schwan. The charge is from a May 14, 2016, incident, during which Matthew struck Reilly with a vehicle; that vehicle had to be lifted off Reilly at the scene.

Following the trial, Schwan was allowed to remain on bond, and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.

According to the motion for a new trial, filed last Friday, after the trial a family member of Matthew’s contacted defense counsel via text message and provided a screenshot taken from a Facebook page on March 15. After further investigation it is asserted a juror posted on Reilly’s Schwan’s Facebook page indicating either actual bias and/or implied bias against Matthew.

The actual or implied bias of the juror stems from his failure to disclose his relationship with Reilly, and this question was posed during the voir dire process by the State of Wyoming. While the juror admitted to knowing Reilly, he failed to disclose the nature of their relationship and, in fact, remained mute on the answer and didn’t indicate he had any further information.

Additionally, after the conclusion of the trial, defense counsel reviewed the testimony of Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Collins and recalled the mention of a surname with regard to one of the firemen who assisted in the extrication of Reilly.

After further investigation it was discovered a second juror is married to a Thermopolis volunteer fireman and her brother-in-law is also a member of the fire department. The brother-in-law was named during Collins’ testimony as one of two firemen who assisted in Reilly’s extrication.

The actual implied bias of the second juror stems from the failure to disclose her husband and brother-in-law were active members of the Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department, and her brother-in-law actively participated in Reilly’s extrication.

While the motion for a new trial and evidentiary hearing has been filed, there has been no determination as to when it will be heard. If the motion is denied, Matthew is scheduled for sentencing June 5.

 

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