Indiana appeals vacated conviction in IU student’s killing

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Indiana is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that ordered the release of a man convicted in the 2000 killing of an Indiana University student.

Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office filed a notice of intent last week to appeal the judge’s ruling vacating John Myers II’s murder conviction.

The judge found that Myers’ trial attorney was so ineffective his Sixth Amendment rights were violated.

The now-43-year-old Myers was convicted in 2006 in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Jill Behrman and sentenced to 65 years. Behrman vanished in May 2000 after leaving her Bloomington home for a bike ride. Hunters found her remains in 2003.

Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega told The Herald-Times of Bloomington he expects it will be months before the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Court of Appeals rules on the matter.

In a statement released Nov. 6, Hill said Myers’ counsel “met the appropriate threshold of competence.”

“Convicted murderers should stay in prison,” Hill said. “…There is a saying in the tradition of the law that criminal defendants are entitled to a fair trial but not a perfect one. John Myers’ trial was fair, and the jury was correct to find him guilty of this terrible crime, which shocked the conscience of the entire state.

“While we respect the federal judge’s order, we believe that it was wrong as a matter of law and should not be the final word in this important case,” the AG continued. “Federal law allows for an appellate court to take a fresh look at this case, and we look forward to proving on appeal that John Myers’ conviction is sound.”

The case is John Myers v. Ron Neal, 19-3158.

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