Attorney general appealing release of convicted murderer

Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's attorney general will appeal a decision by a federal judge to release from prison a man convicted in the 2000 killing an Indiana University student, his office announced Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge James Sweeney in Indianapolis ruled in September that John Myers II's legal representation during trial for the murder of Jill Behrman was so ineffective his Sixth Amendment rights were violated.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill's office is challenging the court order that not only vacated Myers' conviction, but also mandated that Myers be released from custody within 120 days of the Sept. 30 judgment, unless the state elects to retry him.

"Convicted murderers should stay in prison," Hill said of Myers in a statement. "While we respect the federal judge's order, we believe that it is wrong as a matter of law and should not be the final word in this important case."

Myers, 43, was convicted in 2006 in the killing of 19-year-old Jill Behrman and sentenced to 65 years. Myers turned to the federal court to appeal his conviction after several unsuccessful attempts to challenge in state court. He argued his lawyers made several mistakes that prejudiced the jury against him.

"Mr. Myers's counsel made false statements to the jury during opening arguments, which counsel admitted to the Indiana Supreme Court in a subsequent attorney disciplinary proceeding. He also failed to object to two significant categories of evidence that should not have been presented to the jury," Sweeney wrote in his ruling.

Behrman, an IU sophomore, was 19 when she disappeared in May 2000 while on a bicycle ride near Bloomington. Her fate was a mystery until hunters found her remains in 2003 in Morgan County, north of Bloomington. She died of a shotgun wound to the back of her head.

Investigators concluded that Myers, who lived in Ellettsville, a town about seven miles from IU's campus, killed her out of anger over a failed relationship with a girlfriend.

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