The Defense Case
Larry Swearingen offered a brief affirmative defense, but need hardly have bothered. He had impeached himself so thoroughly by his efforts to manufacture exculpatory evidence that the jury was unlikely to believe anything he said. Nonetheless, Swearingen testified that he did in fact encounter Melissa Trotter that day at the college, but only briefly. She was talking to another man. Swearingen did not go to McDonald's or anywhere else with her that day. Instead he went from the college to see his grandmother.
Swearingen's grandmother corroborated his testimony. She testified that he picked her up and took her to the post office around 2:00 PM, and that he was with her until around 2:50 PM. Assuming the grandmother testified truthfully and accurately, then Larry Swearingen was probably not responsible for the disappearance and murder of Melissa Trotter.
During their cross-examination of the grandmother, however, the State called into question her memory of both the date and time. They questioned her also about why she had not earlier informed the authorities of her grandson's alibi.
In addition to the alibi testimony, Swearingen's defense consisted of alternative explanations for the State's evidence of attempted rape. With respect to the state of Melissa's sweater, shirt, and bra being pulled above her breasts, the defense elicited testimony that it could have been caused when her body was dragged through the brush.
With respect to the possible vaginal bruise, the defense called its own medical expert. That expert disputed Dr. Carter's testimony that such a bruise could be sustained during normal sexual intercourse. The expert testified instead that Melissa Trotter suffered pelvic inflammatory disease, and that pelvic inflammation could cause such vaginal discoloration.