• 86°

Habitual felon sentenced once again

WINDSOR – A local man with a long criminal history will spend the next 9-to-12 years behind bars.

During last week’s session of Bertie County Criminal Superior Court, Travis Keil Swain, 34, of Windsor, pled guilty to felonious larceny, felonious larceny of motor vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, and to the status of being a habitual felon.

Judge Quentin Sumner sentenced Swain to consecutive sentences of 22-36 months and 84-113 months for a total of 106-149 months. Based on this sentence, Swain will spend 8.8-to-12.4 years in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Swain was represented by Attorney Takiya Lewis.

According to Swain’s criminal record, this latest sentence marks the second time he has spent time behind bars as a habitual felon. Swain was sentenced as being a habitual felon in October of 2007 for similar offenses and received a sentence of 7 years and 4 months and was released on Feb. 24, 2013.

“The habitual felon laws were put in place to protect our community from people with records similar to Mr. Swain,” stated local District Attorney Valerie Asbell. “As you can see from Mr. Swain’s record he was sentenced as a habitual felon in 2007 and served seven-plus years in prison, and then when he was released from prison he started committing felonies again.

“With the escalating violence in our community and in the country as a whole, especially with firearm violence, my office is committed to holding people with long felony records accountable for their actions so that our community will be a safer place to live. As in this case, I am committed to seeking lengthy active sentences for these repeat offenders who continue to victimize our citizens,” Asbell added.

The facts surrounding the current convictions were that on July 19, 2015, Swain stole a tractor from a farm at 316 Cedar Landing Road. The tractor was owned by Michael Lee of Washington, NC.

On the date of offense, a witness saw Swain driving the tractor down the road. The witness was familiar with Swain and the owner of the tractor, and he knew Swain didn’t have permission to have the tractor. The witness called law enforcement, who were then able to find the tractor abandoned behind a barn about three miles from where it was stolen.

Exactly one year later (July 19, 2016), Swain stole the personal vehicle of Windsor Police Officer Frank Ratzlaff while it was parked and awaiting service at Cashie Auto in Windsor. Within a couple of hours, law enforcement spotted the vehicle traveling on Sterlingworth Street in Windsor. When Windsor PD officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver (later identified as Swain) led them on a short chase through the town. Officers lost sight of Swain, but they were able to find him again a short time later. Swain was still driving Ratzlaff’s vehicle and again attempted to elude officers. Swain eventually stopped the vehicle on Mountain Street, got out, and ran into some nearby woods. When officers searched the vehicle, they found numerous stolen items as well as four firearms (one rifle and three pistols) in the vehicle. Swain, having been convicted of four prior felonies, was prohibited from possessing firearms.

According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections, Swain’s arrest record dates back to 2001. From then until 2007 he was arrested and found guilty of possession of illegal drugs, larceny (multiple charges), common law robbery, breaking and entering, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal