Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boone Pleads Guilty to Complicity to Murder in Swan Case
November 2, 2013 by Cassandra Shofar | No Comments

“Right whenever he (Dustin Plottke) was starting to swing and everything, I just turned my head.” – Matthew Boone

Matthew Boone said on the fateful morning of July 25, 2010, he, Dustin Plottke and two others were “driving around the back roads and drinking,” when they came upon Thompson Township teenager Dan Swan.

“We were just driving around and all of a sudden we’re going on Sidley Road and then Dustin and everything was like, ‘Oh, there he is.’ He opens up the door, hits the kid with the door … I was driving the truck,” Boone, 23, of Rome, Ohio, told Geauga County Common Pleas Judge Forrest Burt Monday afternoon after pleading guilty to complicity to murder and tampering with evidence. “The kid goes … into the ditch. And then after, Dustin told me, ‘Turn around, turn around,’ and I told him, ‘No, I’m gonna keep on going.’ And he was like, ‘It’d be in your best interest.’

“So I turn around, go back and then I stopped probably like 300 yards ahead of the kid and then that’s when Dustin got out of my truck and grabbed a piece of pipe in the back of the bed and went up and struck the kid in the head with it.”

Burt asked if Boone saw the first hit.

“Yes,” Boone answered. “Right whenever he was starting to swing and everything, I just turned my head.”

Swan, 17, a Ledgemont High School graduate, was later found with multiple injuries to his head in the middle of Sidley Road later that morning.

He never regained consciousness and passed away three weeks later.

Swan’s death went unsolved until a random investigation during a July 2012 burglary in Montville Township gave Geauga County Sheriff Office detectives a break in the case.

That investigation lead detectives to charge Boone and Plottke, 26, also of Rome, Ohio, in connection with Swan’s death.

There was no known relationship between the men and Swan, Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said earlier this year, adding it seems to be a “crime of opportunity, a random act of violence.”

Boone and Plottke were both indicted on the three-year anniversary of the incident.

Boone was charged with one count of complicity to aggravated murder, two counts of complicity to murder, two counts of complicity to felonious assault and two counts of tampering with evidence — all felonies of varying degrees.

The tampering charge was filed because Boone admitted to disposing of the truck and pipe shortly after the incident.

He initially pleaded not guilty July 29, however, in exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop all charges except for complicity to murder and tampering with evidence.

Plottke — who was charged with one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and two counts of felonious assault — pleaded not guilty this summer.

His trial is set for Feb. 3, 2014.

As part of Boone’s plea, he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in Plottke’s trial.

“And you recognize that you have some responsibilities in terms of you have agreed to testify truthfully against Mr. Plottke,” Burt told Boone Monday. “And if, in fact, it’s determined that you refused to testify or you didn’t testify truthfully, the state can seek to have the plea agreement vacated and returned back to the original indictment. Do you understand that?”

“Yes, your honor,” Boone responded.

At the request of Boone and his attorney, Geauga County Public Defender Bob Umholtz, the state also agreed to contact the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to request that Boone and Plottke be housed in separate prisons for safety reasons.

Burt informed Boone he faces the same potential penality for complicity to murder as he would for murder.

“In this case you understand that there will be a prison sentence to life, not maybe, not could be, there will be. Do you understand that?” Burt asked Boone.

“Yes, your honor,” he replied.

“You also understand that, you would not be eligible for parole until you have served 15 years of this sentence?” Burt asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Boone said.

Boone also faces up to 36 months in prison for tampering with evidence.

If the court decides to run Boone’s sentences consecutively, his maximum prison term would be life with the possibility of parole after 18 years.

He also could face a maximum fine of $25,000.

Burt revoked Boone’s bond and ordered a pre-sentence investigation report, including statements from Swan’s family.

His sentencing will be in six weeks, the judge said.

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