News | 10.8.2012 | Comments Off on Swag Murder Trial: Not Guilty!! A Million Dollar Verdict

chaney releasedSwag Murder Trial: Not Guilty!! A Million Dollar Verdict
Written by New York Citizen One Friday, August 10, 2012 05:54

Louis Chaney walked out of the Justice Center in Albany County a free man a little after 4:30….even though Judge Lamont had arranged for “overtime.” It’s been two years since Ricky Thornton, Louis Chaney and Jason Benn were tossed in the County Correctional facility for the burglary, kidnapping and murder of Steven “Swag” Jackson, a marijuana dealer who was operating in Albany after wearing out his Long Island welcome.

The trio was originally tried for these crimes in November when the jury was unable to return verdicts on the largest of the counts. Lucky for Jason Benn, they were able to find him guilty of using Swag’s credit card so, of the three, Benn is the only one who is still in custody.

I sat with Ricky’s sister, Linda, when the jurors entered the room. We exchanged a look…it looked like guilty. Ricky Thornton and Holly Trexler rose to face the verdict and the Not Guiltys kept coming…we held our breath for the last count of conspiracy, the easiest to prove and the only request for clarification from the jury during deliberation.

I grabbed Linda’s arm…Thornton hugged Trexler, the jury smiled and a few cried as Jason Benn rose to hear his verdict. Midway through the delivery, attention was drawn to Michael Mansion delivering medical attention to Ricky Thornton on the other end of the table. I watched as Trexler maintained the calm of Jackie Kennedy on that day in 1963.

Within minutes the Jury was ushered from the room and the Sheriff’s Deputies were delivering medical equipment to Thornton. By that time, Shahmeeka Chaney Artis, Dunia Hartzog and Keisha Ried had arrived to hear the verdicts going in their direction. I joked with Dunia, now you’re going to have to get rid of that girly shower curtain! (You see, since Thornton has been locked up so long she’s redecorated in more of a frilly style.)

Within moments, the EMTs arrived and Mansion provided the vitals with many of Ricky’s women providing his medical history. He was loaded on the gurney and transported to Albany Medical Center. (I must assume he has been released to his family by now…if not, I’m sure they’ll notify me.) The Jury returned to finish up the delivery of their verdict and with each they all loudly stated their support for that not guilty verdict.

Mr. Benn hugged Mr. Meany when he heard the verdicts which declared him not guilty of murder, kidnapping and burglary…that guilty verdict certainly would have looked bad on a job application. He will be appealing the November verdict of guilty regarding his use of the Swag credit card. Mr. Chaney was the last to hear his fate and, since he had the least amount of evidence brought against him, I felt sure he would be found not guilty…and he was not.

He had told Mr. Mansion, prior to the reading of the verdicts, that he had no intention of crying at any point in the verdict reading….and he didn’t. I remember the first morning Chaney was introduced to the jury panel back in November…he gave the group an uncomfortable wave and a half smile as he began his legal battle to regain his freedom. Even on the slowest, most painful days of the trial, Mr. Chaney has provided a backstory with his message reading materials.


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