Court reverses release of man convicted in IU student Jill Behrman murder, appeal overturned

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INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — An appeal by John Myers, the man convicted in 2006 of the killing of Indiana University student Jill Behrman, was overturned Tuesday.

On August 4, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal court ruling from September of last year that ordered the release of Myers.

The September 2019 ruling, handed down from U.S. District Court Judge James R. Sweeney of the Southern District of Indiana, said the legal counsel for John Myers II was ineffective and vacated the conviction.

Today the appellate court disagreed. Excerpts from court documents explain that – in the court’s view – even though Myers’ counsel was poor, the conviction still stands based on the weight of the evidence against him:

The district court was right about the performance of Myers’s trial counsel. It was deficient and plainly so in at least two ways. What leads us to reinstate Myers’s conviction, though, is the strength of the state’s case against him separate and apart from those errors.

Among the most convincing evidence were the many self-incriminating statements that Myers made to many different people, like telling his grandmother that, if the police ever learned what he did, he would spend the rest of his life in jail.

The weight of these statements, when combined with other evidence, leads us to conclude that his counsel’s deficient performance did not prejudice him. The proper outcome is to respect the finality of Myers’s conviction in the Indiana courts.

Our examination of the record leaves us of the firm conviction that even without counsel’s errors, the jury would have reached the same conclusion and found John Myers guilty of murdering Jill Behrman.

The court’s decision reverses the order granting Myers’s petition, overturning the writ of habeas corpus.

Tuesday’s ruling effectively means that Myers will remain in prison and his conviction of the murder stands.

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