Burnett gets maximum sentence for Kanawha County murder, rape

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

Lasalle Javon Burnett, 40, was sentenced Friday to the maximum of 15-35 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 will run consecutively.

Swim died following a single gunshot wound to the head. It happened at home on Ash Street in Charleston in June 2019.

“I can not imagine anything more humiliating, more terrifying, more horrifying than what happened to Mr. Swim,” Tabit said.

During a virtual court hearing, Burnett apologized for his actions and said he was a different person the night of the shooting.

“This wasn’t me. This is not who I am. I let drugs take over my life,” Burnett said. “I never meant for anyone to get hurt. I’m so so sorry.”

Burnett also received the maximum 50 years of supervision if he’s released from prison.

The defense argued Burnett suffered from an addiction problem and had a bad upbringing in the foster care system. Burnett’s attorney told the judge Burnett deserved concurrent sentences so that he could eventually become a more productive member of society.

“He does have the ability to be rehabilitated. He has the ability to be kind and care about people. He knows right from wrong and he knows what he did was wrong,” his attorney said.

A sentencing hearing was held virtually in Kanawha County Friday morning.

Despite a public apology to the family, Swim’s sister Sarah Swim testified that nothing can bring him back and that his killer had no remorse for him.

“Adam was murdered in his own home. His last moments are what goes through my mind the most. It’s an image that’s like torture. How could they take his life and it be worth so little to them?” she said, wiping away tears.

Swim said her brother was killed around the same time they planned to go on a family fishing trip.

“Instead of taking my son fishing with his uncle, we were scattering his ashes at his favorite fishing site,” she said.

An emotional testimony after Swim on Friday was followed by the woman Burnett raped. She detailed the traumatizing moments and told Burnett she will never be the same.

“Being put on my knees and having a gun to our heads while you raped me — and for you to think that you deserve a chance out there with 15 years? 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 was,” she said. “I told the police that Black man looks like an animal.”

Judge Tabit ended the hearing by telling Burnett she was there to serve justice by giving him a prison sentence he deserved.

“Mr. Burnett I’m going to show you the compassion that you showed Ms. — and Mr. Smith that day and I’m going to sentence you to the maximum,” she said.

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