by Max Brantley
A fair amount of attention has been given to handling of a negligent homicide charge against Benjamin Swindoll, 21, in a 2009 traffic death and subsequent alcohol-related offenses. Last December, Judge Marion Humphrey declined, for procedural reasons, to revoke a suspended sentence in the traffic death case though Swindoll had subsequently been arrested on another DWI charge in Sherwood.
The news is that Swindoll pleaded no contest Wednesday to the new charge in Sherwood and was fined, ordered to complete community service and sentenced to a year in jail. But the sentence was suspended conditioned on completion of the Sherwood sobriety court program. It includes freqent AA meetings, therapy and frequent testing for drug and alcohol use. It is one of three federally funded sobriety programs in the state.
I asked Teresa Belew, spokeswoman for MADD, about the outcome. She said the family of the young woman killed in the accident, Nikki Powell, had wanted treatment for Swindoll and had been disappointed that there'd been no consequences for an earlier lapse, only 23 days after the end of supervision by community corrections in the death case.
"The Sherwood sobriety court holds offenders accountable," Belew said. "It is another opportunity for a young man to make meaningful change and it has swift and sure consequences. Everyone is prayerful that Swindoll succeeds while in the program as well as moving forward. He has yet another chance to get his life back...something his friend Nikki Powell didn't get."
Here's MADD's full report on the case, including court disposition records.