PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – The Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered a husband to pay $4.8 million to his parents’ wife, after a jury convicted him of killing his wife for her money during a scuba diving trip in the Virgin Islands.
David Swain, husband to Shelley Arden Tyre, alleged that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, but Justice Williams disagreed, citing Swain’s “slayer status” under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act. Swain failed to make other objections at his trial, so they cannot be reviewed on appeal.
After Tyre disappeared while scuba diving in the Virgin Islands, her husband told her parents he had not been with her at the time and did not know what had happened to her.
Swain and his wife dove together, and he came up without her. Later, a friend dove and was alarmed to find one of Tyre’s fins. He later found her lifeless body, with her mask removed.
An investigation showed that Tyre’s equipment had been damaged in a way that was consistent with a violent struggle.
The couple had a prenuptial agreement stating that Swain would get nothing if the couple divorced. But Tyre’s will stated that Swain would get everything if she died.
In 2006 a jury weighed the evidence and concluded that Swain had killed Shelley with malice and forethought, and awarded her estate $2.8 million in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages.
The state high court agreed that Tyre had been Shelley’s “slayer,” which meant he had no right to the money in her estate.