The imprisoned ex-boyfriend of a young woman fatally gunned down in a Birmingham park is accused of paying someone else to kill her.
Birmingham police earlier this week announced a capital murder charge against Solomon Minatee III in the July 28 slaying of Raven Lynette Swain. Court documents in the case against the 24-year-old suspect said he was hired by Demarcus Chandler to kill Swain for “pecuniary and/or other valuable consideration.”
Now Chandler, who has an extensive criminal history dating back to when he was just 16 years old, is also charged with capital murder in Swain’s death. Chandler is behind bars at William Donaldson Correctional Facility after being sent back to prison last year for violating his parole in previous violent crimes was revoked. Birmingham police obtained the capital murder warrant against Chandler on Thursday.
Swain was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of her vehicle when South Precinct officers responded at 7:05 p.m. that Tuesday to Underwood Park in the 1100 block of 26th Street South. Birmingham Sgt. Rod Mauldin said when officers arrived at the park, they found Swain in her vehicle that was lodged in the foliage. She was pronounced dead on the scene at 7:48 p.m.
Evidence in the park and parking lot indicated multiple shots had been fired, Mauldin said. Several shell casing markers were placed in the lot, which is not far from the Red Mountain Expressway overpass, about a block from The Nick bar. The rear of the park is behind the St. Vincent’s Hospital parking deck.
At least one woman who lives nearby reported hearing the shots fired. Someone in the area called 911, but Mauldin said he didn’t know whether there was anybody else in the park at the time of the shooting.
Swain is the sister of Pose actor Ryan Swain, who has mourned his sister’s slaying publicly on his social media accounts.
Court records show Chandler was arrested on June 5, 2019 on felony charges of domestic violence strangulation/suffocation in which Swain was the victim. He was also charged with receiving stolen property after he was found in possession of a Toyota that had been reported stolen out of Fultondale. He was then charged with six counts of probation violation in connection with crimes he committed in 2014. Those crimes happened May 1, 2014 at a Birmingham McDonald’s. Police received a call just before 11 p.m. that Thursday on two robbers inside the business at 3013 12th Ave. North. The call came from a citizen on a cell phone.
According to arrest affidavits, Chandler and the other suspect, 22, were robbing the restaurant of $147. Three employees inside were held against their will and threatened with violence during the holdup. Officers rushed to the scene and surrounded the restaurant. The suspects eventually surrendered and were taken into custody. No shots were fired and there were no injuries.
Chandler pleaded guilty to three counts of kidnapping and three counts of robbery. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with five to serve. He was released from state prison at the end of his sentence on April 23, 2019.
When he was arrested on the new charges and probation violation charges in June, he was initially held without bond. He was then granted bond after his attorney argued he did not pose a danger to himself or others and would adhere to any and all conditions of his bond.
On July 26, 2019 Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Streety noted in court documents that Chandler had been placed on electronic monitoring. On Aug 1. Streety issued a warrant for his arresting stating he had violated his probation and ordered that he be held on no bond once arrested.
Then, on Aug. 5, 2019, Chandler was accused of holding four family members – including children – hostage overnight in east Birmingham.
Birmingham East Precinct officers responded at 10:30 p.m. that Monday to a home in the 500 block of Roebuck Drive. Authorities said the officers were dispatched on a domestic incident.
When they arrived on the scene, they found an older female who had managed to escape the house. There were, however, still three other relatives being held against their will inside the home. Two of the hostages were 17, and the other was 11. Police learned shots had been fired inside the home. No one was hurt.
By 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, all of the hostages were out of the home. The older woman who initially called police was the first to escape, and then a second hostage also made a getaway. The suspect allowed the remaining two hostages to leave.
Police were not able to make contact, however, with Chandler for several hours. A hostage negotiator was brought in and Chandler surrendered shortly before 2 a.m. Nearby residents had been evacuated during the ordeal.
Ultimately Chandler was charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping, attempted murder, second-degree domestic assault and certain persons prohibited from possessing a firearm with bonds totaling $285,000. All of those 2019 charges – both from the hostage ordeal and the domestic violence assault on Swain – have been forwarded to a grand jury for indictment consideration.
In the meantime, Chandler’s parole was revoked on the 2014 charges and, in October 2019, he was sent back to state prison to serve the remainder of his sentences. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, his minimum release date is set for May 2033.
On the night that Swain was murdered, dozens of friends and family members flocked to the crime scene. Within hours, whispers began – both in the crowd and on social media – that Chandler was behind her death. Police have not yet released additional details in the murder-for-hire scheme, nor said how Chandler and Minatee know each other. Chandler was at St. Clair Correctional Facility when the alleged murder scheme was devised, police said, and moved to Donaldson afterward.
Minatee pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony burglary and he received a 36-month suspended sentence. His probation in that case ended Dec. 16, 2019. Also in December, however, he was indicted on a robbery charge in which he is accused of robbing another man at gunpoint of cigars, cigarettes and $150. Prosecutors this week requested his bond in that case be revoked pending his new capital murder charge.