The anguish won't end for the family of Vicky Bowman-Hall when 18-year-old Michael Richard Swanson stands up in an Iowa courtroom Thursday and pleads guilty to first-degree murder and robbery.
But family members will be spared the agony of a trial, of reliving every detail of the night when the St. Louis Park teenager shot Bowman-Hall, 47, in the face and left her to die on the floor of the Crossroads convenience store in Algona, Iowa.
Most of the family doesn't want a trial, Jillian Bowman, 23, one of Bowman-Hall's 11 children, told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday. She, however, had hoped that a trial would help her finally come to terms with her mother's death.
"I know [the murder] happened, but it still doesn't feel like it's final or real," she told the Register. "I still feel like my mom's still here. I think about it every day."
Bowman-Hall, 47, was Swanson's first victim on Nov. 15. After shooting her about 9:05 p.m., he got back in the Jeep Grand Cherokee he'd stolen from his parents, drove about 25 miles and walked into the Kum and Go station in Humboldt, Iowa, about 10 p.m. There, he robbed and shot Sheila Myers, 61.
Last month, a jury took less than an hour to reject the defense argument that Swanson, who was 17 at the time of the killings, was insane and convict him of first-degree murder in Myers' death. That crime in Iowa carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
A judge will hand down that sentence to Swanson on Thursday morning. That afternoon, Swanson has told prosecutors, he will plead guilty to first-degree murder and robbery charges in Bowman-Hall's death. He will request immediate sentencing at that hearing, said Kossuth County Attorney Todd Holmes.
Defense attorney Chuck Kenville could not be reached for comment.
Swanson's second trial was scheduled to begin July 27 in Lyon County.
Bowman said she doesn't think Swanson's expected guilty plea means he's taking responsibility for his actions, but she doesn't blame his family for the murders.
"I don't feel like he's owning up to anything. I think he just didn't want to go through another trial because he knows he's pretty much finished," she said.
Jurors at his first trial watched a two-hour videotaped interview with Iowa investigators in which Swanson calmly told how he stole his mother's Jeep and credit cards, headed north to a family cabin in Bigfork, Minn., and then south to Iowa. He smoked cigarettes and sipped a soda as he flatly described the crimes to an Iowa detective.
In each town, Swanson walked into a convenience store, pointed a gun at the clerks and demanded cigarettes and money. Each of the women handed over the goods. He shot each one in the face.
His mother, Kathleen Swanson, testified at his first trial that she and her husband had tried for years to get help for their son. From the very beginning, she said, they knew something was wrong.
Swanson was only 11 when a psychiatrist told her that he was a lost cause and needed to be locked up. His grandmother, his aunt and even his own mother, feared he was going to hurt them -- and he usually admitted thinking about it.
But always, it seemed, Swanson was caught before someone got hurt. Until Nov. 15.
"I felt powerful. I just didn't care," Swanson told the Iowa investigator about shooting the women. "My adrenaline was going good. I just felt like, 'Well, sometimes people get shot.'"
Star Tribune staff writer Pat Pheifer, the Des Moines Register, the Associated Press and staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report.