Prosecutors won’t seek death for murder defendant who started GoFundMe for slain husband


Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a man who allegedly killed his estranged husband. The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Florida made the announcement in court on Tuesday, according to The Ocala StarBanner.

Herbert Kurt Swilley, 55, will nonetheless have to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murdering Timothy Floyd Smith, 59.

Marion County deputies claim that sometime between the night of March 23 and early morning of March 24, Swilley drugged his husband with a massive amount of the somnolent antihistamine diphenhydramine, then choked him to death with an unknown ligature and fractured his neck.

Herbert Kurt Swilley, left, murdered his husband Timothy Floyd Smith, right, deputies said. (Images: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Herbert Kurt Swilley, left, murdered his husband Timothy Floyd Smith, right, deputies said. (Images: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

Swilley then drove the body from their home to a nearby apartment they had maintained, according to authorities.

He allegedly put his husband’s remains inside, staged a fake crime scene, and used household cleaning agents in an attempt to destroy evidence.

“Swilley returned to their residence and then drove Timothy’s vehicle to the apartment where he left it,” deputies wrote. “Swilley then walked back to their residence where he accessed their Ring camera application; investigators later learned that surveillance videos from that night were not present. Then, a few hours later, Swilley drove to the landfill where he dropped off what appeared to be two carpets from their residence before going about his day.”

Investigators claim that Smith, who suffered domestic abuse at Swilley’s hands, was close to getting a new job in another county and moving there without his husband.

Also, the defendant stood to profit from Smith’s death as the beneficiary of a total of $333,000 in life insurance policies.

In various public statements, deputies said that they had looked on March 25 to do a welfare check on Smith the day after he did not show up to work. They found his body at the couple’s apartment.

After Smith’s death, Swilley raised more than $2,200 dollars on a now-defunct GoFundMe campaign to pay for his husband’s funeral.

Publicly, the case was a mystery, going unsolved for months, but deputies called out Swilley in August, saying he was a suspect and claiming he offered through an attorney that he would cooperate only if given immunity from prosecution in his husband’s death.

Authorities described Swilley as initially acting cooperative, but his many details in his preliminary statement were “false, self-serving, or contradicted by other evidence.”

Smith’s sister, Sandy Reils, had a similar account about her brother-in-law, Swilley. She told Orlando NBC affiliate WESH in a Nov. 3 report that the suspect did not contact her after the murder. Instead, she learned about it from social media.

“Just from the first initial conversation I had with him, he changed his story in that conversation three times,” she said.

Deputies arrested Swilley on Nov. 3. He faces one count each of murder in the first degree and tampering with evidence. The defendant pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, online records show.

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