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Swatzell Will Remain Behind Bars

Four of the seven members of the Tennessee Board of Parole voted to keep convicted murderer Chad Swatzell behind bars for at least another year, and set his next hearing for July 2023.

Swatzell, who turned 50 in January, has been incarcerated ever since August 29, 1988, at age sixteen, after he turned himself in to authorities in Decatur County, telling them he had just murdered a woman.

His victim, Carolyn Kilpatrick, 41, was refinishing furniture in her garage when Swatzell—who did not know her—stopped at her Highway 412 West home and killed her.

Swatzell had left his Princeton, Kentucky home earlier that day, armed with his father’s AR-style weapons and a cache of ammunition.

Swatzell was convicted by a Williamson County jury, following a week-long trial, of first degree murder and attempted robbery, and sentenced to life in prison. He became eligible for parole after 25 years.

The board decision states that Swatzell’s parole was denied because “to release from custody at this time would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.”

The board ordered continued correctional treatment, medical care, and vocational or other training in the institution. The order also requires Swatzell to “maintain positive institutional behavior” and “establish a release support plan which addresses physical/mental health needs.”

Members of this community rallied once again and wrote letters asking that Swatzell’s parole be denied.

Kilpatrick’s daughter, Valerie Lindsey, attended the hearing along with Sheriff Nick Weems, Linden Mayor Wess Ward, and former Sheriff Thomas Ward.

In his comments to the board, Sheriff Weems asked them to remember the victim, and said the state “got it wrong” when they decided years ago that a life sentence could mean parole in 25 years. He said that’s why the law has since been changed.

With Swatzell listening, the Sheriff said you “don’t say you’re sorry” when you kill someone unless you also “admit that your actions were heinous…and say I’m where I belong.” He also reminded the board that Swatzell said several years ago that he would seek parole again.

Swatzell appeared remotely from Northeast Correctional Complex in Johnson County.

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