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Convicted murderer to get new trial in South Dakota

WATERTOWN, S.D. — A Milbank man convicted of second-degree murder in September 2017 will get a new trial.

In an opinion released Friday, March 15, the South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Watertown defense attorney Scott Bratland’s contention that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to properly instruct a Grant County jury on what charge Bratland’s client, Michael Swan, should have faced.

Swan was convicted of killing his wife, Angelina, at the couple’s Milbank apartment by stomping on her neck in October 2016. Michael Swan was 63 years old at the time while Angelina Swan was 77 years old.

Swan had been serving a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that because there was some evidence that the crime may have been committed in a heat of passion, the jury should have been instructed on manslaughter. The Supreme Court reversed the murder conviction and ordered that Swan be given a new trial.