ALFRED — A Scarborough man who fatally stabbed another man last year after they left a bar in Old Orchard Beach together pleaded guilty Friday to murder.
Michael Swenson, 45, faces 25 to 40 years in prison for killing Roger White, 49, under the terms of a plea agreement between his attorneys and a prosecutor.
Justice John O’Neil accepted Swenson’s plea in York County Superior Court and said his sentencing will be scheduled in July.
Swenson, who appeared in a light olive-colored suit and matching tie, spoke in a subdued voice as he stood with his attorneys, Randall Bates and Joseph Mekonis, and answered the judge’s questions.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said that, had the case gone to trial, witnesses would have said Swenson admitted on the day after the killing, on April 20, 2012, that he had gone “ballistic” and thought he had killed White in a fight after they left the Whaler.
White’s body was found the next day by a resident of Old Orchard Street, near the bar.
The resident saw a pool of blood near his door and noticed legs sticking out from beneath a pile of nearby mattresses, Marchese said.
Swenson went to another bar after stabbing White and slept that night in a makeshift shelter in the woods.
In the morning, he went to a friend’s house appearing distraught and nervous, and told the friend what had happened, the prosecutor said.
Marchese said Swenson told Patrick Welch that he had been in a fight, saying, “It’s bad. It’s bad. I think I killed someone.”
Video taken from the bar shows Swenson and White playing pool on that night and then shows them leaving together at 10:21 p.m. The video shows Swenson returning to the bar alone at 10:34 p.m., Marchese said.
Swenson told his friend the next day that he attacked White after White called him a “has been” and a “know nothing,” Marchese said.
She said Swenson went to the Old Orchard police station that day and police later matched White’s DNA with blood found on Swenson’s T-shirt, socks and one of his sneakers.
White, a carpenter who was a lifelong Old Orchard Beach resident, had a 2½-inch-deep stab wound to the chest, two stab wounds to the neck and slashes on his neck “almost ear to ear,” the prosecutor said.
Marchese said she will ask that Swenson be sentenced to 40 years in prison. “The evidence is quite compelling against him,” she told reporters outside the courthouse after the plea hearing.
White’s family members who attended the hearing declined to speak with the media.
“My understanding was that Roger (White) was an easy-going guy, a nice guy,” Marchese said.
“Michael Swenson was intoxicated that night, and angry.”
One of Swenson’s attorneys, Bates, said Swenson wanted to accept responsibility for White’s death from the start.
“Michael is very sad about what happened. He’s very remorseful,” Bates said. “He’s done what he feels is best for him and for the White family.”
Marchese suggested at the plea hearing that Swenson planned White’s murder, because he shifted a knife from pocket to pocket before he and White left the bar, and because White’s money was missing when his body was found.
Bates said the state did not have to establish a motive to prove its case against Swenson, and more details about whether the murder was premeditated will be discussed at the sentencing.
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