Andrew Royer (2005)

From LEO Ratings

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Overview

On November 29, 2002, the Elkhart Indiana Police Department investigated the death of 94-year-old Helen Sailor, who had been strangled in her Elkhart, Indiana apartment. The initial investigation produced no results.[1]

On September 2, 2003, Detective Carlton "Carl" Conway learned that Lana Canen was acquainted with Andrew Royer, both of whom lived in the same apartment building as Sailor. Canen denied any involvement in the death and was released.[1]

Starting September 3, 2003, Royer, a mentally-handicapped man, was interrogated by police for two days. He confessed to the murder, but gave differing statements. At one point, Conroy asks a series of leading questions, where Royer agreed to the narrative proposed by Conway.[1]

On September 4, 2003, Royer was arrested for the murder of Sailor. As the interrogation continued, Royer gave another version of the incidents, including unsubstantiated claims that he sold Sailor's belongings at a pawn shop.[1]

While awaiting trial, Royer gave a statement to another Detective, denying involvement in the crime, but giving an invalid alibi.[1]

On September 3, 2004 police also charged Lana Canen with murder, based primarily on a comparison of fingerprints found at the scene that had been evaluated by Detective Dennis Chapman, who was not trained to compare such fingerprints.[1]

On August 10, 2005, Royer and Canen were convicted of murder. They were each sentenced to 55 years in prison. Their convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeals of Indiana.[1]

In 2007, Royer requested a new trial, claiming that his trial attorney provided an inadequate legal defense. In 2011, Royer's request for a new trial was denied.[1]

In 2010, Canen filed a petition to challenge the fingerprint evidence against her and requested a new trial. In 2012, Chapman concluded that he had made a mistake in the initial analysis of the fingerprints. Canen's conviction was vacated, the charge was dismissed, and she was released from prison. [1]

In 2019, Royer filed another petition, based on newly-found information that Conway had lied in another murder case and Royer's original defense team had not been informed.[1]

The witness who originally named Canen and Royer stated that Conway had threatened her with prison time and the removal of her children unless she cooperated, that Conway fed her information about the murder, and she had been promised and given a $2,000 reward. Conway admitted that he fed Royer details of the crime and admitted that he knew that some of the details Royer gave did not match the physical evidence.[1]

On March 31, 2020, Royer was granted a new trial.[1]

On April 14, 2021, Conway was placed on administrative leave.[2]

On July 19, 2021, the prosecution dismissed Royer’s case. Royer was released from prison after 16 years.[1]

On September 10, 2021, Elkhart Police Chief Kris Seymore submitted a letter to the city’s Police Merit Commission, requesting Conway be fired for "immoral conduct" and "conduct injurious to the public peace or welfare."[1][3]

On October 6, 2021, Conway resigned from the department, in advance of a disciplinary hearing.[4]

On March 30, 2022, Royer filed a lawsuit against the City of Elkhart, Elkhart County, the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office, the State of Indiana, Officers Chapman and Conway, and several other police officers, alleging violations of his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.[5]

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