BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A judge with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has rejected the request of an Elletsville man charged in the murder of Indiana University co-ed Jill Behrman to have a new trial.
John Myers, the man convicted in the death of Behrman, had requested that a new trial be set after claiming that state investigators had previously failed to provide over 8,000 pages of FBI and Bloomington Police Department documents related to the investigations into the disappearance of the 19-year-old woman.
Behrman’s body was found in Morgan County three years after she was first reported to be missing on May 31, 2000, while riding her bicycle in Bloomington.
Myers was eventually convicted in state court in 2006 and sentenced to 65 years in prison. Myers is currently serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City and is eligible for parole in 2037.
According to previous reports, prosecutors argued that if their findings were shared with Myers’ defense attorneys during the trial, then this would have likely led to at least one juror doubting the validity of the evidence.
Myers’ attorneys, Jenner & Block Partner Clifford Berlow, said at the time:
“The evidence shows the State of Indiana did not turn over more than 8,000 pages of Bloomington Police Department and FBI files to Mr. Myers prior to trial. And powerful evidence in those files casts serious doubt on Mr. Myers’ guilt. We believe that when the Court reviews those materials it will come to the only possible conclusion: that Mr. Myers did not receive a fair trial and was wrongfully convicted.”
The state responded by stating that Myers’ lawyers did receive a portion of the requested information.
The Indiana Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals conceded that Myers’ original trial counsel did raise a few concerns, but said that Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega delivered evidence deemed strong enough to support the conviction.
The Seventh Circuit Court responded by stating that it disagreed with the notion that Myers’ counsel was not prejudiced by counsel’s errors.
The court examined in further detail the claims filed by Myers that his due process had been affected by false testimony.
Myers had claimed in his petition that a detective falsely testified that he did not deny his guilt while being interrogated and that the state had presented evidence related to gun access even though this detail had been dismissed as a possible piece of evidence by an investigator who testified before the grand jury.
While Myers claimed that the reviewing was faulty, the court responded by stating that “this claim is procedurally defaulted because the Indiana Court of Appeals resolved it on an independent and adequate state law ground, which prevents a federal habeas court from reviewing the claim.”
The court concluded its verdict by stating that “jurists of reason would not disagree that Mr. Myers’ Giglio claim is procedurally defaulted, that the Indiana Court of Appeals’ denial of his Brady claim was not unreasonable, and that his remaining ineffective assistance of counsel claims were resolved by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore, a certificate of appealability is denied.”