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A 51-year-old Sunnyvale man was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday for the death of his wife in 2005. A jury of six men and six women found Gary Swierski guilty of strangling his wife Reina Swierski and burying her body in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It took a jury only one day to convict Swierski, after a trial that included witness testimony that Swierski had abused Reina to the point where friends had to smuggle her out of her home.
During the trial, Swierski testified that he killed his wife in self-defense after she attacked him with a knife. Reina was first reported missing in 2005. Three years later, a group of hikers found a skull in Castle Rock State Park, but it wasn’t until 2010 that investigators used DNA and dental records to identify the skull as Reina Sweirski’s.
In February 2011, the defendant’s daughter Eva shed more light on the case when she told police in Auburn, Calif. that she has helped her father dispose of her stepmother Reina’s body just before midnight on March 8, 2005. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office began working on the case a few weeks after establishing a Cold Case Unit that uses DNA evidence in unsolved murders, rapes, and violent assaults. Swierski is scheduled to be sentenced on August 27 and faces 25-years-to-life in prison.
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