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Guilty Verdict in Behrman Case | IndyStar

Guilty Verdict in Behrman Case | IndyStar

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Guilty verdict in Behrman case | IndyStar.comhttp://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061030/LO...1 of 410/30/06 7:54 PM
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Morgan County Sheriff RobertGarner, (right), escorts defendantJohn R. Myers II from thecourthouse today. - CHARLIE NYE /The Star
Trial background
The accused: John R. Myers II, 31,Ellettsville: A single father of Two andhandyman, he has pleaded not guilty tomurder.The victim: Jill Behrman, 19,Bloomington. An Indiana Universitycoed, the avid bicyclist vanished May31, 2000 during a ride through northernMonroe County. Despite the focus of national media attention, she remaineda missing persons case until her remains were found in a woody field inremote Morgan County March 9, 2003.KEY EVENTSOct. 16: Judge Christopher Burnhambars Myers' criminal history from thetrial. In court, prosecutors say Myersabducted Jill Behrman, 19, while shewas on a bike ride May 31, 2000, after a chance encounter. They say he tookher to his trailer, stripped her naked,then later marched her into the woodsin Morgan County and shot and killedher. Myers' attorney tells jurorsauthorities have the wrong man.Oct. 17: Jurors hear about, and seepictures of, the crime scene, and viewpictures of Berhman's bones that werereassembled by a forensicanthropologist team at the Universityof Indianapolis.
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IndyStar.com Metro & State 
6:33 PM October 30, 2006
 
Guilty verdict in Behrman case
By Tom Spalding and Tim Evans
tom.spalding@indystar.com
6:20 p.m. - Jury returns guilty verdict
A Morgan County jury tonight found John Myers II guilty in the death of Jill Behrman, the IndianaUniversity student who disappeared on a bicycle ride six years ago.Myers claimed he was innocent of the murder, andhis attorney maintained that the state had onlycircumstantial evidence to link his client to the crime.But prosecutors successfully argued that no one butthe killer could make as many references to theBehrman case as Myers did with family and friends.Several family members testified against him.Behrman, 19, was reported missing after a ridethrough northern Monroe County. Her remains werenot discovered for nearly three years.Sentencing will likely take place Dec. 1.Myers' brother Sam yelled "Good luck John," as hewas led from the courtroom.Behrman's parents hugged prosecutors after theverdict was announced and family members werecrying in the courtroom.
5:20 p.m. - Court says panel has a verdict
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. -- The jury has a verdict in theJohn Myers II murder case.Reporters were notified of the development at 5:20p.m. today by Deputy Morgan County Prosecutor Bob Cline. Myers was being brought back to courtfrom the jail where he was taken after final argumentsconcluded around 4:30 p.m.Cline said court would reconvene within the hour.Myers is charged in the death of IU Student JillBehrman. Behrman disappeared in 2000 while ridingher bicycle in the hills outside Bloomington. Her bodywas found in a remote, wooded area in 2003.Prosecutors have put forward an admittedlycircumstantial case, but say only the killer could knowas much as Myers seemed to know. Defenseattorneys said prosecutors have presented noevidence to directly link Myers to the killing.
4:30 p.m. - Jury considering the evidence
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - The jury finished listening toclosing arguments and began deliberations, whichshould last until 10 p.m. unless the 12-person panelreaches a conclusion sooner.Prosecutor Steve Sonnega wrapped up the arguments by asking jurors to think of themselves as fact-finders."The truth was taken to the grave," he told them. "Thanks to Betty Swaffard (John R.Myers II's grandmother) and her courage and her strength and the grace of God, the truthis that John Myers killed Jill Behrman. Don't let this window of opportunity close without
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Guilty verdict in Behrman case | IndyStar.comhttp://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061030/LO...2 of 410/30/06 7:54 PM
Oct. 18: Behrman's parents, Eric andMarilyn, testify about their daughter'slove of cycling. They tearfully recall thehopelessness they felt when a searchand reward of $100,000 turned upnothing, then of sadness when theyheard she'd been found dead.Behrman's bicycle is shown to jurors.Oct. 19: Defense lawyer Patrick Baker suggests that Behrman was secretlypregnant and possibly involvedromantically with a co-worker at an IUgym, and that police were too quick todismiss that man as a suspect.Baker's description of Behrman'scharacter brings condemnation fromher parents.Oct. 20: Baker files two motions for mistrial - one because the Behrmanparents are still witnesses but weregiving interviews to the media, one for a detective's accidental use of theword "polygraph" while on the stand.Both motions are rejected. Also, aforensic pathologist testifies Behrmanwas likely raped, forced to lie face-firstin the soil and shot.Oct. 21: Myers' two brothers, hismother, grandmother and aunt takethe stand. The grandmother and aunttestify to having conversations withMyers in which he doesn't confess, butimplicates himself in Behrman'sdisappearance.Oct. 23: Myers' ex-girlfriend testifiesthat he took her on a three-countynighttime drive in March 2003 to showher a woody, remote location -- thesame spot where Behrman's remainswould be found three years later. Also,six former coworkers recall oddstatements Myers uttered between2000-2003 about random details he hadof Behrman's disappearance.Oct. 24: Wendy K. Owings, aBloomington woman who wasinvestigators' original suspect (alongwith two friends she implicated) admitslying about her involvement in 2000because she faced her own legal woesand wanted to use her tips to reduceprison time. Also, a jail worker andinmate at Monroe County Jail testifyabout statements Myers made duringseparate stays between 2002 and2005, where he talked about Behrman.Oct. 25: The state rests its case after calling more than 50 witnesses. IndianaState Police Det. Rick Lang takes thestand. Prosecutors and defense focuson a May 2, 2005 interview betweenMyers and police, and tactics used toellicit a comment.Oct. 27: The defense rests after calling two witnesses.doing justice."Attorneys for both sides then left the courtroom.
4:00 p.m. -- Defense calls prosecution case 'speculation'
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - Attorneys for John R. Myers II said the state provided nophysical evidence or proof that Myers killed Jill Behrman.During closing arguments this afternoon in Myers' murder trial, Patrick Baker held up ablank sheet of paper before the jury."Here's the evidence against Johnny Myers," said Baker. "Nothing -- because it does notexist."In a 65-minute closing presentation, Baker and his father, Hugh Baker, co-counsel, arguedthe state failed to pursue other suspects and scenarios that could have led to the personwho actually killed Behrman."The state's evidence does not exclude every reasonable theory of innocence," saidPatrick Baker. "The state has not proven anything. Nothing. It’s called speculation,speculation, speculation."Baker said there are several other, more plausible explanations for what happened toBehrman, including the theory that she was involved in a relationship with an older co-worker and may have been pregnant, or that three "druggies" who were initiallyimplicated in the case actually killed Behrman. One admitted in court she providedmisleading information to throw investigators off their trail.The prosecution is expected to make a rebuttal statement later this afternoonThe jury should begin deliberating by this evening.
2:52 PM -- Proscutor uses elaborate computer presentation
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - After a four-hour delay, and with one less juror, closing argumentsfinally began this afternoon in the John R. Myers II murder trial.Prosecutors made a simple request: bring justice to Jill Behrman.Prosecutor Steve Sonnega showed an elaborate computer presentation flashed on a bigscreen that detailed how authorities pieced together Myers' involvement in the IndianaUniversity student's death.One slide on the computerized presentation showed a color photo of Myers' face alongwith 15 pointed arrows detailing the names of people who had information or evidencelinking Myers to the girl's death.Sonnega also highlighted large portions of a May 2, 2005 transcript that Myers gave to twoIndiana State Police detectives. In the transcript, Myers never confessed, but Sonnegaclaimed that Myers was elusive.But ultimately, Sonnega said, Myers was caught in a big lie.When detectives asked him if he had ever talked about Jill Behrman, Myers replied "no."But Sonnega said in truth, Myers had spoken to 14 people about Behrman - including hisgrandmother and aunt."Who is lying? All these people or the defendant?" Sonnega said. "He is trying to go aroundthe truth. Why? Because the truth convicts him."Myers seemed calm in the packed courtroom. His attorney, Patrick Baker, will offer closing arguments next.
2:31 PM -- Judge interviews all jurors, lets final arguments start
After a four-hour delay so that jurors could be questioned, attorneys begin to presentclosing arguments in the murder trial of John R. Myers II.The prosecution began at 1 p.m. with its version of the 2000 abduction and slaying of Indiana University student Jill Behrman.Prior to starting opening arguments Morgan County Judge Christopher Burnham said that he could find no indication that jurors had beentainted by inappropriate outside influence over the weekend. The judge said he spent "quite some time" this morning interviewing each juror in the presence of the prosecutor and the defense attorney to determine if anything had occurred over the weekend that wouldhave influenced their ability to render a fair and impartial verdict.Burnham said they found no evidence of that in the interviews with the jurors.Earlier in the day one of the jury members had been dismissed for personal reasons and questions were raised about the possibility that jurors had been privy information that might have influenced the outcome of the trial.
11:05 AM -- No sign of outside influence, detective says
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - Indiana State Police Det. Rick Lang, lead investigator in the Jill Behrman killing, elaborated on why the judge inthe John R. Myers II murder trial called for a recess until 1 p.m. today."It's individual questions of the jurors ... to make sure jurors make a decision on what they heard in the courtroom," Lang said. "There isno indication of outside influence with the jury whatsoever.""I'm not sure how it started," Lang said, "but they want to make sure that everything is done right. It was information that apparentlyhad come from somewhere and like I said, the judge and both parties want to make sure their (the jury's) decision is based on whathappened in the courtroom."No official word on what caused the delay was immediately available, said Dave Remondini, an Indiana Supreme Court representativeassisting the Morgan Superior Court.Although the legal issues that were debated behind closed doors were not known, Myers' defense attorney, Patrick V. Baker, has askedfor a mistrial at least three times of the course of the 11-day trial, which wrapped up last Friday.None of those motions for mistrial were granted by Judge Christopher Burnham.
 
Guilty verdict in Behrman case | IndyStar.comhttp://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061030/LO...3 of 410/30/06 7:54 PM
Burnham has said in court after one of those denials that he does not want a mistrial.Lang said he didn’t want to think about the long investigation ending in a mistrial. “I think we're in good position and we have goodinformation to provide the jury with. This is just another glitch and another hurdle that we'll get over like we have over the last six and ahalf years."Baker declined to comment, as did prosecutors in the case.
10:04 AM -- Attorneys, judge meet behind closed doors
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - The judge in the John R. Myers murder trial called for a recess until 1 p.m. today to make sure the jury had notbeen improperly influenced.The six-man, six-woman jury has been sequestered during the trial.Officials in Morgan Superior Court would not comment, but attorneys for the state and Myers' defense met behind closed doors for anhour this morning with Judge Christopher Burnham to discuss the issue with the jury. The judge then called for the recess.Myers is accused of abducting IU student Jill Behrman in 2000 and killing her with a shotgun blast to the back of her head.The trial had been expected to resume today with closing arguments beginning at 9 a.m.On Sunday, jurors viewed 18 locations related to Behrman's disappearance and death. One of those spots they saw firsthand -- atWarthen and Duckworth roads in Morgan County -- was where the woman’s student's remains were found.When court started nearly all of the estimated 80 seats in the second-floor courtroom at Morgan County Courthouse are taken up.Myers, 31, Ellettsville, has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Behrman, a 19-year-old IU student who vanished May 31,2000 while on a bicycle ride through the hills of northern Monroe County. Her remains were found near Paragon March 9, 2003.Myers did not comment as he arrived to the courthouse today. He was escorted inside by sheriff's deputies.Myers' entourage arrived just after 8 a.m., with his mother Jodie and Myers' brother Sam walking out in front. They did not comment.The Behrman family, led by Jill's parents Eric and Marilyn, also arrived a short time later in a large show of force but they did notcomment.Morgan County Sheriff Robert Garner also arrived to the courthouse and had mixed emotions about the ramifications of the closingarguments. "How can you be satisfied? It's a tough deal."Each side will get 90 minutes to make its case, and the jury will be read instructions that explain to them the difference betweencircumstantial and direct evidence. They'll be reminded that prosecutors have the burden and must show Myers is guilty beyond areasonable doubt.One of the 12 jurors was replaced with an alternate because of personal reasons.
9:05 AM -- Closing arguements to start.
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - Jurors will hear closing arguments in the trial of John R. Myers II today, a day after they viewed 18 locationsrelated to Jill Behrman's disappearance and death. One of those spots they saw firsthand -- at Warthen and Duckworth roads in MorganCounty -- was where the Indiana University student's remains were found.Closing arguments begin at 9 a.m., today and nearly all of the estimated 80 seats in the second-floor courtroom at Morgan CountyCourthouse are taken up.Myers, 31, Ellettsville, has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Behrman, a 19-year-old Indiana University student whovanished May 31, 2000 while on a bicycle ride through the hills of northern Monroe County. Her remains were found near Paragon March9, 2003.Myers did not comment as he arrived to the courthouse today. He was escorted inside by sheriff's deputies.Myers' entourage arrived just after 8 a.m., with his mother Jodie and Myers' brother Sam walking out in front. They did not comment.The Behrman family, led by Jill's parents Eric and Marilyn, also arrived a short time later in a large show of force but they did notcomment.Morgan County Sheriff Robert Garner also arrived to the courthouse and had mixed emotions about the ramifications of the closingarguments. "How can you be satisfied? It's a tough deal."Each side will get 90 minutes to make its case, and the jury will be read instructions that explain to them the difference betweencircumstantial and direct evidence. They'll be reminded that prosecutors have the burden and must show Myers is guilty beyond areasonable doubt.One of the 12 jurors was replaced with an alternate because of personal reasons.
This story will be updated.Copyright 2006 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved
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