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Published October 23, 2013, 09:44 AM

One of two suspect pleads guilty in ND killing in which victim's legs cut off

BISMARCK — One of two men accused of conspiring to murder a South Dakota man in North Dakota has changed his plea to guilty, while the second suspect is headed to trial.

BISMARCK — One of two men accused of conspiring to murder a South Dakota man in North Dakota has changed his plea to guilty, while the second suspect is headed to trial.

Theo Crowe, 26, of Trenton, said in court on Monday in Bismarck that he went along with a plan by Joshua Clark, 20, of Stanley, to kill someone, though he did not believe Clark was serious, according to The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV.

"We did, in fact, go through with what he conspired to do," Crowe said.

The two men are accused in the death of John Swain, 18, who was reported missing in mid-May after moving to Bismarck from Sioux Falls, S.D., in search of work. Police believe Clark and Crowe lured Swain into a Bismarck home and hit him in the head with a hammer.

Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Pam Nesvig said Swain's legs were also cut off.

"Both co-defendants were involved in that process," Nesvig said.

Swain's body was found in late June at the home of Crowe's grandmother in Poplar, Mont., according to authorities. Swain's father, David Swain, of Sioux Falls, has said he thinks his son went to a party before he disappeared, and that police have told him his son's death appeared to be a random killing. Crowe told investigators early in the case that he and Clark had met Swain in a Bismarck park, according to transcripts of hearings for search warrants.

Clark on Monday maintained his not guilty plea.

South Central District Judge Donald Jorgensen ordered that pretrial defense motions be filed by the end of the month.

Jorgensen ordered a presentence investigation and psychological evaluation of Crowe.

Crowe could face life in prison without parole.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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