Murder trial begins in wife's scuba death

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands The director of public prosecutions in this British territory, Terrence Williams, said that David Swain knew a divorce would ruin him financially and he believed money from his wife's life insurance policy would help him win over his love interest.

"That dive was for this new woman," Williams told the nine-person jury.

The 1999 drowning of Shelley Tyre, 46, was initially ruled an accident. But authorities in the British Virgin Islands later charged Swain with murder after a 2006 Rhode Island civil trial found him responsible. Federal U.S. agents arrested Swain at his Rhode Island dive shop in November 2007 and he was extradited to Tortola.

Swain, dressed in a gray suit, was escorted into the courthouse in handcuffs and sat alone at a booth behind his lawyers. He maintains his innocence and his defense lawyer has said they will show the drowning was a "tragic accident."

Williams said the evidence suggests Tyre's dive gear was forced off in a struggle underwater. He said a strap was broken on her mask and the mouthpiece was detached from her snorkel, suggesting the use of "great force."

Once her body surfaced, Williams said, Swain performed CPR only momentarily.

"This is what you would do for an ordinary person, a stranger driver. But this was no stranger, this was his wife," said Williams, adding that Swain discouraged others from trying to revive his wife.

Swain, 53, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

In the civil suit, Tyre's parents accused him of killing their daughter because he was romancing another woman and because the couple's prenuptial agreement denied him money if they divorced.

In that trial, Swain told jurors that his relationship with the other woman was non-sexual, and that he was working on his marriage when Tyre died. The other woman said in a videotaped deposition that she was not interested in a relationship with Swain while he was married but became involved with him after Tyre's death.

Swain's daughter sat on the opposite side of the courtroom from Tyre's family. Both sides declined to comment to a reporter.

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