On January 23, 2012, a Cleveland County jury was taken to the apartment where Jeremiah Swafford was murdered on February 13, 2009. The jury had seen several diagrams and photos of the apartment, but the jury was taken to the apartment to see the apartment as part of the State's presentation of evidence. Swafford's stepfather Dwight Justice was on trial for first degree murder and child abuse of Swafford. The Defendant's trial began on January 18, 2012.
The Charlotte Observer article does not examine how determinative the visit to the scene of the crime was as compared to the rest of evidence in the case. In fairness, such an examination would be almost impossible for anyone other than those most intimately familiar with the trial. However, the article does illustrate the importance that evidence can play in a criminal trial and the importance of obtaining a competent attorney well versed in the Rules of Evidence. According to the Rules of Evidence, such information that is unduly prejudicial to the Defendant is not admissible. Although the article does not indicate whether Mr. Justice's defense attorney objected to this presentation of evidence, it should be noted that traveling to the scene of a crime could have been unduly prejudicial to Justice. As noted, one would need to be intimately familiar with the facts of the case, the presentation of the State, the defense strategy etc. to begin to analyze both the State's request and the Defendant's response.