Two prison inmates from Waco have been formally charged with capital murder in the beating and arson death of a woman in 2006.

Tony Wayne Swinnie, 46, and Gerald Wayne Brown, 60, were charged in sealed indictments last Wednesday that were unsealed and made public on Tuesday.

Swinnie, a six-time convicted felon, currently is serving two consecutive life prison terms, while Brown is serving a 40-year sentence for arson after his parole was revoked six years ago.

Waco police charged Swinnie with capital murder in May 2007 in the June 2006 death of Gloria Campos Viera, but he was not indicted in that case until last week.

Neither McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna nor his first assistant, Michael Jarrett, returned phone messages Tuesday, leaving it unclear why the DA’s office did not pursue an indictment in the case for more than a decade, including the last four years of former DA John Segrest’s term.

One reason could be that Swinnie is serving a life prison term in the August 2006 aggravated robbery of Martha Jane’s Liquor Store and a consecutive life term in the July 2006 assault of a 67-year-old man in Dallas County.

The fire at Viera’s house, 512 N. 16th St., was classified as arson, and an autopsy showed she died from blunt force injuries to her head and neck and smoke inhalation.

Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court sentenced Swinnie to life in prison after a jury convicted Swinnie of smashing a liquor bottle over the head of Martha Jane Ezar, assaulting her with a cash register and then threatening Ezar’s grandchildren before fleeing that former package store at 1500 Colcord Ave.

In sentencing Swinnie, Strother said, “Mr. Swinnie, you have turned yourself into a human predator and a modern-day barbarian. You seek out the defenseless and unsuspecting.”

A year later, a Dallas County jury sentenced Swinnie to life in prison after he knocked out a 67-year-old man with a single punch and robbed him while standing in line at a McDonald’s in Grand Prairie.

Court records show Brown was sentenced to 40 years in prison for arson in 1993 and released on parole in April 2004. He was sent back to prison in March 2011 after violating his parole.

Brown has a projected release date in 2021.

It was not clear Tuesday if the DA’s office intends to seek the death penalty in the two cases.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

Recommended for you