Former California Highway Patrol Lieutenant sentenced to prison

Imperial Valley

Former California Highway Patrol Lieutenant sentenced to prison for child molestation

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EL CENTRO, CA (13 On Your Side) - A former California Highway Patrol Lieutenant convicted of molesting his two daughters - will spend the next 10 years in prison.

After four months of delay, an Imperial County Superior Court Judge finally sentenced Johnnie Swaim this afternoon.

Swaim's defense attorney argues - the judge should not have allowed the jury to hear evidence from a previous molestation case filed against Swaim in 1995. In that case, a jury acquitted Swaim of molesting his step-daughter.  

But during Swaim's sentencing today, the judge also named Swaim's step-daughter - Erica Sanchez - as a victim, even though he did not calculate additional prison time to include her case.

Defense attorney, Bob Espinoza, says he plans to challenge Swaim's 10-year prison sentence because he claims the judge should not have allowed analysis from a psychiatrist that showed Swaim had characteristics of being a pedophile.

Espinoza claims that test was improperly done and should have been deemed invalid.

Espinoza says Swaim deserves probation - but not prison time.

"My client is not guilty. And had it not been for the rulings on the 1108 evidence, you would've had that verdict. Like I said, I believe that the appellate court will come down. In fact, I'm sure that we will be filing a writ of habeas corpus real soon to get him released. I'm going to file a bail motion, okay? But in reality, I can tell you there's not going to be a grant of bail."

Swaim's youngest daughter was also in the courtroom today. She immediately left following her father's sentencing.  

Deputy District Attorney Heather Trapnell tells 13 On Your Side: Swaim's oldest biological daughter wants her dad to get psychological help.

"THE OLDER VICTIM I HAVE SPOKEN WITH AND SHES VERY CONFLICTED ABOUT THIS. SHE WANTS THIS PERPETRATOR TO GET HELP FOR WHAT HE DID. SHES NOT VINDICTIVE, SHE'S NOT WISHING FOR HIM TO GO TO PRISON BUT SHE DOES WANT HIM TO ADMIT FAULT AND MAKE SURE HE GETS HELP SO HE DOES NOT DO."

Prior to Swaim's sentencing, the judge denied a motion for a mistrial.

Again, Swaim's defense attorney, Bob Espinoza, tells us he plans to file a motion to appeal the sentencing.