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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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