"Then I find you guilty of aggravated murder." – Judge Forrest Burt
Dustin Plottke, 27, of Rome, Ohio, changed his plea to guilty last week to the 2010 aggravated murder of Ledgemont High School graduate Daniel Swan during a Jan. 22 hearing before Geauga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Forrest Burt.
Plottke, along with Matthew Boone, 23, also of Rome, were charged last year in connection with the 17-year-old Thompson teen’s death. They were both indicted on the third anniversary of the incident.
Boone pleaded guilty to complicity to murder and tampering with evidence on Nov. 4 for his role in the murder of Swan, who was found in the middle of Sidley Road with multiple injuries to his head on July 25, 2010.
The Thompson Township teen 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’s Office detectives a break in the case.
Boone was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Dec. 20. During his sentencing, he admitted to disposing of the truck and pipe used in the murder.
“I would just like to apologize for what I’ve done, taking Dan’s life, and if I wouldnt have been out that night, Dan would still be here with us today,” Boone told Burt, according to the court transcript.
Right before pleading guilty last year, Boone described that night through his eyes.
“We were just driving around and, all of a sudden, were 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 said. “The kid goes into the ditch. And then after, Dustin told me, ‘Turn around, turn around,’ and I told him, ‘No, Im 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.’
Boone admitted to Burt he had seen the first strike and then he had turned away as Plottke reportedly kept swinging.
Prior to Boone’s sentencing, Burt called his and Plottke’s actions cold blooded and evil.
Plottke, who had originally plead not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault, was set to start his trial Feb. 3.
However, he changed his plea last Wednesday to guilty and recalled the events of that night.
“We were driving down the road … me and my … friend, Boone and he hit him, we turned around and I beat him over the head with a steel pipe,” Plottke told Burt.
“And he died?” Burt asked.
“Yes,” Plottke answered, nodding his head.
“Then I find you guilty of aggravated murder,” Burt said.
He will be sentenced in Burt’s courtroom at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
As part of the plea agreement, the State of Ohio will recommend a prison term of life, with the possibility of parole after 25, to be run concurrent to Plottke’s current prison term.
Plottke’s attorney, Henry Hilow, told the Geauga County Maple Leaf, as he was exiting the courthouse, that he was glad this case is behind him.
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