A Winston-Salem man rejected a plea deal and is scheduled to go to trial for murder this September in the death of a 2-year-old boy who had human bite marks on his body and severe head injuries.
Charles Thomas Stacks, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jaxson Sonny Swaim. Winston-Salem police officers found Jaxson at a house on Grubbs Street with abrasions on his body and head injuries on Aug. 16, 2015. The boy died from head injuries on Aug. 19, 2015 at Brenner Children’s Hospital.
If convicted, Stacks is facing a possible death sentence. On Tuesday, Stacks rejected an offer by Forsyth County prosecutors in which prosecutors agreed to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for Stacks entering a guilty plea to first-degree murder, said Nils Gerber, one of his attorneys. Under the proposed deal, he would have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“He is not guilty and as such, he rejected that plea,” Gerber said. Lawyer Stephen Ball also represents Stacks.
Under state sentencing guidelines, a defendant convicted of first-degree murder can be sentenced to either life in prison or death. The only way for a defendant to get the death penalty is to be convicted of first-degree murder in a trial and have a jury recommend the death penalty.
Forsyth County Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Martin and Amara Hunter are prosecuting the case. Martin declined to comment on the plea deal or the case Tuesday.
A trial has been tentatively set to start the week of Sept. 17. Gerber said there is a large amount of discovery in the case.
Stacks had been caring for Jaxson at 5450 Grubbs Street on Aug. 16, 2015. Martin said during a hearing in July 2017 that Candace Swaim, Jaxson’s mother, was friends with Stacks and his wife, Megin, and had lived with the Stackses at their house on Grubbs Street. Other people lived at the house, including other children, Martin said at the hearing.
Candace Swaim had been struggling with substance-abuse issues and had struggled to find housing, which led her to move in with the Stackses, according to Martin. On Aug. 16, 2015, Candace Swaim, who was not often at the house, left to stay at a nearby motel, Martin said.
Megin Stacks also left the house that day and when she returned, Jaxson vomited. Jaxson was placed into a tub of ice water and then taken to Brenner. On Aug. 19, 2015, he was taken off life support and died.
Megin Stacks is facing a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in which she is alleged to have told her four children not to cooperate with police or Forsyth County Child Protectice Services. Her charge is still pending in Forsyth District Court. She is scheduled to appear in Forsyth District Court on Feb. 27.
Martin said in court in July 2017 that Jaxson had bite marks on his body that were later identified as human and his testicles were swollen. He also had abrasions on every part of his body. Doctors who treated Jaxson said he had suffered an “acute and catastrophic” injury, Martin said. She said if Jaxson had lived, he would never have walked or talked again.
According to an autopsy report, Jaxon died from bleeding between the surface of his brain and its outer covering, which was caused by a blunt force head injury.
Detective K.J. Burns of the Winston-Salem Police Department wrote in an affidavit for a 2017 search warrant that Charles Stacks admitted to biting Jaxson and “is suspected to be responsible for all of Jaxson’s injuries.”
Charles Stacks is being held at the Forsyth County Jail without bond.