Crossville Man Pleads ‘Guilty But Mentally Ill’ to Murder

CARMI – A Crossville man Wednesday entered an open plea of “guilty but mentally ill” in White County Court to the offense of first-degree murder in a November incident in Crossville.

According to White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud, 36-year-old Clayton Andrew Swanner agreed to a sentencing range of 20 to 45 years in state prison with a sentencing hearing set for Jan. 6. At that time, Aud said he will present evidence on behalf of the State with Public Defender Brian Shinkle presenting evidence on behalf of the defense before they make arguments as to what sentenced they believe should be imposed on Swanner.

In pleading guilty, Swanner admitted that the evidence showed that on Nov. 7, 2019, he committed the offense of first-degree murder in that he, without lawful justification, after starting a fire in their home in Crossville, shoved his mother, Cathy S. Brandenstein, into the fire and held her in the fire knowing such act created a strong probability of death to her and thereby caused her death on Jan. 10, 2020.

Aud said the judge will decide what the appropriate sentence is and will impose it to be between 20 and 45 years with Swanner serving 100 percent of the sentence. The State Wednesday agreed to dismiss the other counts in exchange for the open plea of guilty. The victim’s family has been included in the proceedings and was supportive of Wednesday’s resolution.


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