News (USA)

Former Indiana politician killed after gay ‘casual encounter’ turns violent

David Swartley Cody Garman
David Swartley (l) was found dead in his car. Cody Garman (r) is charged with his murder.

A 22-year-old man in Elkhart County, Indiana has pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to the charge of murdering former city councilman David Swartley.

Court documents reveal that Cody Garman admits to having met Swartley, 66, in the early hours of May 25, after responding to his personal ad for “casual encounters.”

Swartley told his roommates that he wouldn’t be able to provide them transportation before leaving his residence, at around 3 a.m., to drive to Garman’s house. Garman entered Swartley’s car, and at some point an argument ensued. He told police he hit Swartley in the head with a closed fist “at least two times.”

He then drove Swartley’s car, with him naked and injured in the back, to a secluded area. He took the keys and left Swartley in the backseat of his car, did not return to the area, and, as cellphone records show, did not call for help. He said he could hear Swartley calling for help from the car as he walked away.

Police found the 66-year-old unconscious and trauma to his head and face, at around 8:30 that same morning, after a concerned citizen called about a man unresponsive in the backseat of a vehicle. He later died as a result of those injuries.

Garman became a suspect after Swartley’s phone records showed he had been in contact with him right before he was found by police.

Garman, who was appointed a public defender, faces 65 years in prison if found guilty. His pretrial is set for June 29, and his trial is scheduled to begin on September 18.

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