Siler pleads guilty in 2018 Opp murder

Published 2:45 pm Sunday, February 11, 2024

Kali Jamar Siler, 28, of Opp, pled guilty to felony murder before Circuit Judge Lex Short on Thursday, Feb. 8.

Louis Jamil Swinger

He was sentenced to 20 years for the 2018 murder of Louis Jamil Swinger, 36, of Elba. The guilty plea came exactly two weeks after the case was tried before a jury, which resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury.

“A hung jury is always a very frustrating thing because we still have to resolve the case one way or another – via a new trial, a plea, or dismissal,” Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell said. “We felt like we produced all the evidence and essential witnesses we had at trial and feared a similar result in a re-trial. However, it’s important for the public to know that Kali Siler pled guilty to murder. I otherwise would never have allowed a murderer to plead to a 20-year sentence, but the particulars of this case dictated some measure of justice was far greater than no justice at all.”

The evidence at trial showed that in the early morning hours of July 7, 2018, Siler arranged by phone for Swinger to come to Opp to purportedly purchase “cream,” or methamphetamine from Siler. According to one witness, Siler then told others present that he planned to rob Swinger, and possibly kill him, once he arrived to the Hardage Circle apartment. Swinger did arrive to the apartment some time later. Shots were fired, and, though there were nine people present at the apartment, none of them would identify to authorities what happened. One witness at trial did testify that he observed Siler tucking his gun away into his waistband immediately following the gunshots and as Swinger lay dying on the floor.

Siler, together with three other individuals who were previously convicted for their participation in the crime, took Swinger’s body out to the area of Woodall Mill and Cantaline Bridge Roads where it was dumped in the woodline, covered with leaves and other debris, and left.

Swinger’s girlfriend filed a missing persons report with Elba Police on July 8, 2018, and a “be on the lookout” or “BOLO” was issued for Swinger and his car. The car was found a few days later at a burned-out house on Walding Road. Law enforcement was not notified of any shots fired or any murder until after the car was recovered when good citizens then reported a possible murder had taken place at Hardage Circle the weekend prior. From there, law enforcement was able to identify persons of interest, conduct interviews, and attempt to recover evidence.

Assistant District Attorney Nikki Stephens prosecuted the case for the State.

“While this sentence is not what I would have preferred, I am glad that it brings some measure of justice to Louis Swinger. Unfortunately, we had a ‘perfect storm’ of events that hindered our ability to fully prosecute this murder,” Stephens said. “Nobody reported any shooting to law enforcement until days later after the crime scene had been thoroughly cleaned, the body disposed of, and evidence removed to various places. Further, many of the people present at the apartment at the time of the murder indicated they didn’t know or see anything. The only two eyewitnesses to the shooting were Kali Siler and Louis Swinger. Mr. Swinger is not here to tell us what happened, and Kali Siler had a right to remain silent.”

Merrell further stated, “Because nobody saw anything, Mr. Louis Swinger was left out in the woods for a week before authorities knew he’d been murdered. We are seeing a rise in this epidemic of ‘I didn’t see anything.’ When witnesses to a murder won’t tell authorities or a jury what happened, it hinders or eliminates justice for the victim and their family. We can only protect the community to the extent the community will protect itself.”

Merrell commended the work Stephens did on the case, and Stephens wished to thank those who assisted in the investigation and prosecution, specifically including Opp Police Department Assistant Chief David Harrell and District Attorney’s Office Chief Investigator Nickey Carnley.