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Attorneys file appeal in Indiana murder case

June 14, 2018 GMT

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Attorneys for a mentally disabled man in northern Indiana allege his 2003 murder confession was coerced and have filed an appeal to overturn his conviction.

Andrew Royer’s attorneys filed a new appeal Wednesday in Elkhart County Superior Court seeking a new trial. The petition alleges Royer was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison based on bad policing, poor work by his defense lawyer, false witnesses statements and law enforcement concealing evidence.


The filing is based on evidence uncovered by innocence clinics at three law schools, said Elliot Slosar, an attorney for Royer. Slosar is with The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School.

“An epidemic exists in Elkhart, Indiana, where individuals are wrongfully convicted as a result of police corruption and uninspiring advocacy by defense counsel,” Slosar said. “Mr. Royer’s wrongful conviction is another product of the systemic failure in Elkhart.”

Royer, 43, and Lana Canen, 58, were convicted in 2005 the strangulation death of Helen Sailor, 94, in Elkhart on Thanksgiving Day 2002.

Royer had confessed in 2003 after being interrogated for two days. The jury was informed that the detective was aware of Royer’s mental health issues, but didn’t provide him his medication or access to a mental health professional, court records said. Royer was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, according to his attorneys at the time.

Royer told another detective in 2004 that he was innocent, according to the appeal.

Canen’s conviction was reversed in 2012 after a county Sheriff’s Department detective recanted his testimony that linked her to the case based on fingerprint evidence. Royer lost a 2011 appeal and a 2016 post-conviction relief petition.

The Elkhart Police Department declined to comment on the new appeal. County Prosecutor Vicki Becker also declined to comment on the case.


This story has been corrected to show that Royer confessed in 2003, not in 2005.