Ames man found guilty of first-degree murder in 2019 stabbing of roommate

Isabella Rosario
Ames Tribune

An Ames man charged in the fatal 2019 stabbing of his roommate was found guilty by a Story County jury Tuesday.

David Sean Hunter, 57, was convicted of first-degree murder. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17. The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hunter admitted to stabbing Christopher Swalwell, 37, at their west Ames apartment on Nov. 7, 2019. Swalwell died of his injuries the next day.

Hunter's attorneys Tiffany and Christopher Kragnes, who were not immediately available for comment, argued Hunter acted in self-defense. They said a yellowing bruise on Hunter's sternum that night was consistent with someone pressing down on his chest. 

"Did Sean Hunter have a kukri knife? Yup. But he did what he had to do to make sure that he was going to live," Tiffany Kragnes said.

Related:Jury hears closing arguments in homicide trial for 2019 roommate stabbing in Ames

Both the defense and the prosecution agree that night's events started with a dispute over money for video games. Hunter had given Swalwell his credit card information in order to create an account for a game on Swalwell's Xbox, attorneys said, and while Hunter thought the charge would be $1, the charge was actually $15.99.

Attorneys for the state, who were not immediately available for comment, said Hunter acted out of rage rather than self-defense.

Hunter was so angry over the $15.99 charge, assistant Story County attorney Tiffany Meredith said, that he went to confront Swalwell in his room. When Swalwell responded that he was sleeping, Meredith said that Hunter brought in his knife and "picked a fight."

Swalwell sustained around 40 hits from the knife, for a total of 27 wound complexes, according to the state medical examiner. 

More: Lawyers give opening statements in David Sean Hunter's homicide trial for 2019 stabbing

"By Mr. Hunter's own words to law enforcement and to his best friend, Mr. Swalwell asked him, 'are you done yet?' ... Mr. Hunter's words were, 'No, I don't think I am,'" Meredith said.

In closing arguments, Story County Attorney Timothy Meals said the case was not complicated.

"This is not a case about Mr. Hunter doing what he had to do. He didn't have to do any of this," Story County Attorney Timothy Meals said.

Swalwell was born in Ames and enjoyed playing video games, watching movies, fishing and drawing, according to his obituary. He had one daughter.

From 2019: Police say Ames man was fatally stabbed by his roommate

Isabella Rosario is a public safety reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at irosario@gannett.com or on Twitter at @irosarioc.