Marion County man accused of murdering husband held without bond, attorney backs out of case

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — The Marion County man accused of killing his husband and then hiding evidence had his first appearance in court for the murder case on Saturday.


Herbert Swilley is facing charges of pre-meditated murder and tampering with evidence for the death of Timothy Smith.

The judge decided to hold Swilley without bond. His former attorney, Gail Grossman, also withdrew from the case after discovering his financial situation. All he has to his name is a motorcycle and a truck.

“Given the circumstances of the severity of the case and given his limited finances, and the fact that he has zero income now that he is in custody, he will not be able to afford counsel,” said Grossman. “Obviously, he’s facing very, very serious sentence.”

Read: Watch: Judge denies bond for man accused of killing husband, faking crime scene in Marion County

Grossman is also not death-penalty qualified, which is something the state could be seeking. She originally represented both Swilley and his daughter the days following the homicide. At the time, Swilley asked for immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation. It was not granted. Now, without representation, Swilley has been temporarily granted a public defender until he submits all proofs of income to the court.

Back in late March, deputies found Smith dead in an apartment they shared—strangled, bruised with a broken neck along with 30 times the normal amount of sleeping medication in his system. Deputies believe Swilley killed him at their primary home and moved them to the apartment they shared.

Investigators believe that’s where he placed the body and set up a mock crime scene.

Read: Deputies: Marion County man drugged, strangled husband before staging fake crime scene

Arrest documents show Smith told those close to him he was sick of caring for the defendant. Investigators also found out Smith was also getting ready to leave Swilley.

He was in the final step of interviewing for an executive position in DeLand.

“Tim had gotten sober and was living a better life,” said Smith’s sister, Sandy Riels. “I think that Herbert didn’t like that.”

Read: Deputies: Husband named suspect in ‘brutal murder’ of Marion County man

During the investigation process, an Alachua deputy told Marion County investigators Swilley was “always about money.” That deputy reported to them several arsons and subsequent insurance claims Swilley made in Alachua County during his previous marriage.

Investigators also noted in the arrest documents that Swilley’s motorhome was recently burned down shortly after he had trouble obtaining the $330,000 life insurance claim from his husband, where he was set as the beneficiary.

“We were just very glad that through our detectives’ investigation, without the cooperation, we were ultimately able to bring Timothy’s killer to justice,” said Marion County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Zach Moore.

Swilley’s next court date is set for Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.

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