AG Curtis Hill: By upholding conviction, appellate court delivers justice to killer of IU student Jill Behrman

From Indiana Attorney General:

Attorney General Curtis Hill today applauded a U.S. appellate court’s decision to uphold the conviction of John Robert Myers II, the killer of Indiana University student Jill Behrman.

“No one can undo the pain and sorrow inflicted by this vicious criminal,” Attorney General Hill said. ”This murder destroyed a life. It cheated a young woman out of a promising future. It robbed a family of many more years spent joyously with their loved one. But at least Jill’s relatives and all Hoosiers can take some solace in knowing the evildoer responsible for her death will stay behind bars as a result of his heinous deeds.”

A 19-year-old Indiana University freshman, Behrman went missing after taking a morning bike ride on May 31, 2000. For many months, the Bloomington community and all of Indiana rallied around efforts to find her. Behrman’s remains were finally found three years later. An investigation revealed she died from a gunshot wound to her head.

In 2006, a jury convicted Myers of murder in connection with Behrman’s death. He was sentenced to 65 years.

In 2019, a U.S. district court ordered a new trial for Myers on the grounds that he received inadequate representation from his legal counsel.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed that decision and denied Myers’s appeals.

“The district court was right about the performance of Myers’s trial counsel,” wrote the three federal judges who heard the appeal. “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.”

Although court rules allow Myers to ask the judges to reconsider — or to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case — such requests are rarely granted. That means today’s decision is likely the final word on Myers’s appeals.

“From the moment we learned that a 13-year-old conviction was in jeopardy over a federal district court decision with which we disagreed, we coordinated with the prosecuting attorney who tried the case,” Attorney General Hill said, “and we initiated our efforts to ensure that Myers would not leave his prison cell.”

Attorney General Hill expressed hope that today’s ruling could help bring some additional closure for Behrman’s family and friends.

“May we always remember and honor the bright and energetic young woman who should have enjoyed so many more years on this earth,” Attorney General Hill said. “And may we continue to keep all Jill’s loved ones in our hearts and prayers.”

Photo: Government of Indiana / Public domain

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