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Divided court affirms life without parole for 17-year-old who killed younger brother

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A 3-2 decision of the Indiana Supreme Court upheld a sentence of life without parole for a 17-year-old who killed his 10-year-old brother while babysitting and later dumped his body near a school in Rising Sun.

Justice Steven David wrote for the majority, affirming the Ohio Circuit Court sentence for Andrew Conley in the murder of Conner Conley.

“We hold that based on the age of Conley, the age of Conner, and the particularly heinous nature of the crime, a sentence of life without parole was appropriate,” David wrote for the majority that included Chief Justice Brent Dickson and Justice Mark Massa. “We hold that on the facts of this case, the sentence of life without parole is constitutional.”

“A seventeen-and-a-half-year-old caring for his ten-year-old brother murdered the defenseless child with his bare hands. After disposing of the body, Conley acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary,” David wrote. “He took steps to cover up the crime and hid his brother’s body in a park. The aggravating factor was clearly established and uncontroverted. The judge was within his discretion in weighing the mitigating factors in the manner in which he did.”

Justices Robert Rucker and Frank Sullivan Jr. dissented, saying they would have imposed a 65-year sentence, given Andrew Conley’s age and other mitigating factors.

“I do not believe the trial court manifestly abused its discretion in weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances in this case. However, I do not agree Conley should have been sentenced to die in prison,” Rucker wrote.

Rucker’s dissent also points to research concluding that less than 6 percent of juveniles convicted in homicides receive sentences of life in prison without parole, and that the United States is the only country that doesn’t comply with the norm against imposing life without parole sentences on offenders under age 18. Indiana is one of 15 states allowing such sentences, Rucker wrote.

The dissent said the brutality of the crime wasn’t the only inquiry for the court, and noted Andrew Conley’s troubled upbringing and multiple attempted suicides. But he also had been a solid student with aspirations of going to college, no prior criminal record and a solid relationship with his family. Rucker also noted that the 17-year-old turned himself in the day after the killing.

“Conley was only seventeen at the time of this crime, and I find, as has the Supreme Court, that his age is relevant to the assessment of his character,” Rucker wrote. “It seems clear that Conley ‘was still a teenager with a developing brain and impulse control issues made worse by his mental illness.’”

Andrew Conley is only the fourth juvenile in Indiana to receive a sentence of life without parole.


 

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  • Failure
    Things like this happen because parents fail their children, a 17 year old has no business babysitting a 10 year old. Also the system fails, the police fail, the CPS fails the schools fail and the courts fail. The law, the police or the lists can't protect us from ourselves or from harm of others. We must protect our selves and to do that we must protect our constitutionl rights, especially the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms!

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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