A Crossville man accused of setting a fire last November that caused his mother's death has been formally charged with first degree murder. Clayton Andrew “Andy” Swanner, 35 has been formally charged with three counts of first degree murder in the death of Cathy S. Brandenstein. Ms. Brandenstein, 61 died January 10 after spending more than two months in the intensive care unit and undergoing multiple surgeries at the University of Louisville Burn Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
On Wednesday, January 15, White County State's Attorney Denton Aud filed the murder charges through an amended criminal information.
In Count 1, Swanner is accused of committing first degree murder “in that the defendant without lawful justification and with the intent to kill or do great bodily harm to Cathy S. Brandenstein, after a fire being started in the residence of 1101 Superior Avenue, Crossville, shoved Cathy S. Brandenstein into the fire and held Cathy S. Brandenstein in the fire, thereby causing the death of Cathy S. Brandensteuin on January 10.”
In Count 2, Swanner is accused of committing first degree murder in that “without lawful justification, after a fire being started in the residence at 1101 Superior Avenue, shoved Cathy S. Brandenstein into the fire and held Cathy S. Brandenstein in the fire, knowing that such act created a strong probability of death to Cathy S. Brandenstein, thereby causing the death of Cathy S. Brandenstein on January 10.”
In Count 3,Swanner is accused of “while committing a forcible felony, arson, started a fire in the residence of 1101 Superior Avenue, and shoved Cathy S. Brandenstein into the fire and held Cathy S. Brandenstein in the fire, thereby causing the death of Cathy S. Brandenstein on January 10,.”
Other felony charges previously filed against Swanner include two counts of aggravated arson, residential arson and aggravated domestic battery.
Swanner was back in White County Circuit Court Wednesday, January 15 where the judge explained the nature of the amended charges and possible penalties. Through his court appointed attorney Brian Shinkle, Swanner waived his right to a speedy trial with a status hearing set for January 27. According to court records, the speedy trial waiver was requested as Swanner awaits a mental evaluation.
Swanner remains in the White County jail under $1 million bond pending trial.
There will be no local funeral services for the victim, Cathy S. Brandenstein. Her remains have been cremated and will be interred in an Oklahoma cemetery with her parents.
A memorial service at the Evansville State Hospital where Ms. Brandenstein worked for many years as a registered nurse is being planned. No date has been announced at this time.