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November 12, 2008

Suspects in Swaissi murder held for trial

November 12, 2008 — Nicco Barnett, 18, and Laverie Franklin, 21, will be held over for trial in the shooting death of former Sequoyah High School student, Vanessa Swaissi, 25.

The preliminary hearing Monday determined there was enough evidence to try the suspects for first-degree murder.

The prosecution may ask for the death penalty.

“We’re studying that at this time,” said Assistant District Attorney Gary Ackley. He said there is a difference in the defendants, but that difference does not rest solely on which man pulled the trigger.

“The biggest difference is history of violent crimes. Barnett has it. Franklin does not,” said Ackley. The prior history of the accused goes toward proving aggravating circumstances which are needed to qualify as a death penalty case in the state of Oklahoma.

Monday was also the birthday of Swaissi’s mother, Claremore resident Pamela Haynes. Haynes spent her birthday in court listening to testimony regarding the murder of her daughter.

“The best birthday present I could have gotten was to know they’re going to trial,” said Haynes.

According to the Probable Cause Affidavit released by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office, Swaissi gave the suspects a ride and was repaid by robbery at gunpoint resulting in her death.

Ackley said Swaissi was on her way to classes at the community college when she was killed.

“She was taking Oklahoma City like it was Claremore,” said Haynes. “Claremore is a good, nice town. She went to Oklahoma City and became a statistic and I don’t want her to be a statistic.”

Haynes said she commends Ackley and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office for doing a good job at the preliminary trial of seeing that all of the “i’s were dotted and t’s crossed.”

“I believe they identified the correct people,” said Haynes. “Franklin’s mother told me she was sorry. I feel bad, I want her son to get the death penalty, but I don’t want her to feel the same pain I feel. The families are all victims.”

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