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Jan. 16, 2022

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Man, 19, sentenced in Hazel Dell assault, robbery

He is fourth person charged in stabbing of 66-year-old man

By , Columbian staff writer

The fourth and final person charged in a violent 2019 home-invasion robbery in Hazel Dell was sentenced to nine years in prison for his part in stabbing a 66-year-old man.

Aiden M. Swegles, 19, pleaded guilty in August in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree attempted murder. He was 17 at the time of the attack, court records show.

Three other teenagers, Alexander J. Rivers, then 17, Sophia L. Utton, then 16, and Amber R. Maxwell, then 13, previously pleaded guilty in the scheme and were sentenced. Maxwell is the victim’s granddaughter, according to court records.

At 6:15 p.m. Dec. 16, 2019, the victim, James Reese, called 911 and reported that he’d been assaulted and robbed in his home by his granddaughter and two males, according to affidavits of probable cause. The granddaughter lived with Reese, court records say.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded and found Reese suffering from several stab wounds to his face and neck, which severed his carotid artery, and he had fractured facial bones and broken ribs. Investigators later learned he was also stabbed in the chest.

Reese was able to say the teenagers stole his cellphone and wallet and fled in his Dodge sedan, according to the affidavits. Later that night, Clatsop County, Ore., sheriff’s deputies and Seaside, Ore., police officers located the stolen car. Law enforcement from four agencies in Oregon pursued it when it sped off, but the driver eventually crashed and the four teenagers were arrested, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers found that Swegles possessed a bandana and two debit cards belonging to Reese, according to an affidavit.

The affidavit says Swegles admitted during an interview with detectives that he and his co-defendants “developed a plan to rob the victim.” They intended to steal Reese’s debit card; the granddaughter claimed to know the PIN.

Judge Jennifer Snider noted that Swegles was a juvenile at the time of the crime. She recalled seeing him when she was a commissioner in juvenile court.

Swegles told Snider he regrets what he did and said that hearing Reese’s voice via Zoom during the hearing shook him up.

“I feel really bad about what happened,” Swegles said, appearing via Zoom from a jail booth. “I can’t imagine what he’s going through — what his family is going through.”

Snider said she believes Swegles is remorseful and that there’s no question he had adverse childhood experiences. She then handed down the 108-month sentence, which is at the low end of the standard range.

Defense attorney Sean Downs said Swegles was transient and living out of his car at the time of the crime. He said Swegles has taken responsibility for his part and hasn’t blamed the others for what happened.