Man pleads guilty, gets 15 to 30 years in prison for 2016 homicide in Edwardsville

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Daniel Elias Holtslander, 41, of Wilkes-Barre, is escorted by a state trooper during a prior court appearance. Just days before his trial was to begin, Holtslander pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison. Times Leader file photo Daniel Elias Holtslander, 41, of Wilkes-Barre, is escorted by a state trooper during a prior court appearance. Just days before his trial was to begin, Holtslander pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison. - Times Leader file photo

WILKES-BARRE — A city man has pleaded guilty in a 2016 homicide, admitting that he fatally stabbed a homeless man and dumped his body behind the Kmart in Edwardsville.

Daniel Elias Holtslander, 41, was immediately sentenced to spend up to 30 years in state prison.

He entered the guilty plea on a count of third-degree murder Thursday before Luzerne County Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III.

The defendant was scheduled to go to trial on Monday.

According to prosecutors, Holtslander fatally stabbed Kurt Robert Swan, 49, in June 2016. At the time of his arrest, he told police he was sleeping in his truck behind the store when Swan climbed in and approached him.

Holtslander said he “lashed out,” stabbing Swan with a pair of knives before realizing it was him. Holtslander then attempted to hide the body, wrapping Swan’s remains in a tarp and dumping them over an embankment behind the store.

He also allegedly attempted to burn the tarp and other pieces of evidence.

Upon entering his guilty plea, Holtslander was immediately sentenced by Pierantoni to spend 15 to 30 years behind bars.

In a press release, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis praised the work of her prosecutors in bringing the case to a close.

“Today, we held Daniel Holtslander accountable for the senseless murder of Kurt Swan,” Salavantis wrote. “No conviction can resurrect a victim, but it does vindicate the value of Swan’s life, brings a small measure of closure to those who cared for him, and is a testament to the diligence and dedication of all law enforcement officers and prosecutors who worked on this case from the beginning.”

Holtslander also pleaded guilty to a separate drug trafficking offense.

When he was arrested, officers found heroin, crack cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, marijuana joints and packing materials in his apartment.

Holtslander was also immediately sentenced on these charges, but that term will be served at the same time as his sentence on the homicide count.

He will be assigned to a state prison by the Department of Corrections.

Daniel Elias Holtslander, 41, of Wilkes-Barre, is escorted by a state trooper during a prior court appearance. Just days before his trial was to begin, Holtslander pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/web1_holtslander-2.jpegDaniel Elias Holtslander, 41, of Wilkes-Barre, is escorted by a state trooper during a prior court appearance. Just days before his trial was to begin, Holtslander pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison. Times Leader file photo

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan