Burnett receives maximum sentence for murder and rape in Kanawha County | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business
CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A Kanawha County man will spend more than decades in prison in connection with the 2019 rape and murder.
Lasalle Javon Burnett, 40, was sentenced on Friday to the maximum sentence of 15 to 35 years in prison for sexual assault and 40 years in prison for second-degree murder following the death of Adam Swim, 41.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit said the sentences would be consecutive.
Swim died from a single gunshot wound to the head. It happened at his home on Ash Street in Charleston in June 2019.
“I can’t imagine anything more humiliating, more terrifying, more horrific than what happened to Mr. Swim,” Tabit said.
During a virtual hearing, Burnett apologized for his actions and said he was a different person the night of the shooting.
” It was not me. It’s not who I am. I let drugs take over my life,” Burnett said. “I never wanted anyone to get hurt. I’m so sorry.
Burnett also received the maximum 50 years of supervision if released from prison.
The defense argued that Burnett suffered from an addiction problem and had a poor upbringing in the foster care system. Burnett’s attorney told the judge that Burnett deserved concurrent sentences so he could eventually become a more productive member of society.
“He has the ability to be rehabilitated. He has the ability to be kind and to care about people. He knows right from wrong and he knows what he did was wrong,” his lawyer said.
Despite a public apology to the family, Swim’s sister Sarah Swim testified that nothing could bring him back and that his killer had no remorse for him.
“Adam was murdered in his own home. His final moments are the ones that come to mind the most. It’s an image that looks like torture. How could they take his life when it meant so little to them? she said, wiping away her tears.
Swim said her brother was killed around the same time they were planning to go on a family fishing trip.
“Instead of taking my son fishing with his uncle, we scatter his ashes at his favorite fishing spot,” she said.
Moving testimony after Swim Friday was followed by the raped Burnett wife. She detailed the traumatic moments and told Burnett she would never be the same again.
“Being on your knees and having a gun to your head while you raped me – and for you to think you deserve a chance there with 15? You’re crazy, she exclaimed.
Burnett was in rare form, she said.
“The look in your eyes that night, I didn’t even know who you were,” she said. “I told the police that the black man looks like an animal.”
Judge Tabit ended the hearing by telling Burnett that she was there to do justice by giving him the jail time he deserved.
“Mr. Burnett, I’m going to show you the compassion you showed Mrs. — and Mr. Smith that day and I’m going to condemn you to the fullest,” she said.