Indiana Teen Details Method of Brother's Murder to Police
Andrew Conley, left, is led into an Ohio County courtroom for his sentencing hearing, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010 in Rising Sun, Ind. The 18-year-old pleaded guilty to murder Monday in the death of his brother, avoiding a jury trial. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
September 17, 2010
RISING SUN, Ind. — Prosecutors seeking life in prison for an Indiana teenager who pleaded guilty to murder have presented him calmly describing to police how he strangled his 10-year-old brother and telling authorities he later stood over his sleeping father with a knife and fought the urge to stab him.
Prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case Friday, after more than two days of testimony in which they have played audiotaped and videotaped interviews where an emotionless 18-year-old Andrew Conley offered graphic details about his brother’s death. Defense attorneys will then present their case.
Several experts are expected to testify about Conley’s mental state — a key issue as a judge considers how long he will stay in prison.
On Thursday, prosecutors played a videotape of Conley in which he used a green Care Bear doll to show a state police detective how he strangled his brother, Conner Conley, in the kitchen of their home in the small Ohio River town of Rising Sun.
A psychologist who examined Conley testified he was mentally ill, but not legally insane.
Prosecutors spent much of their time Thursday on evidence that portrayed the killing as a pattern of behavior that included Conley reading books about serial killers and visiting his girlfriend with his brother’s body stashed in the trunk of his car.
A day earlier, prosecutors had played audio of his questioning by detectives in which he described his brother yelling for him to stop as he choked the child. Conley also told detectives he had thought about killing people since he was in eighth grade and identified with the TV serial killer Dexter.
Conley appeared calm in the video, but hung his head and visibly fought for control in court Thursday while watching himself describe the murder to detectives. Ohio Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey recessed court twice for a total of nearly an hour as Conley tried to regain his composure.
Conley unexpectedly pleaded guilty to murder Monday as his trial was about to begin. He could face from 45 years to life in prison, but can’t face the death penalty because he was 17 when the murder occurred last Nov. 28.
On video, Conley shows detective Tom Baxter how the killing began with play-wrestling in the bedroom he and his brother shared and he demonstrates the chokehold he used.
He then shows how he dragged his unconscious brother into the kitchen, and Baxter hands him the stuffed bear to demonstrate what he did next. Conley squeezes the bear’s neck, first with two hands, then with just one.
The teen also shows Baxter the route he took as he dragged his brother’s body into the basement and then outside, where he loaded it into the trunk of his car.
In one video, Conley told police he stood over his sleeping father with a knife in his hand and thought about killing him, the morning after he killed his brother and dumped his body in a park. He said he went into his father’s bedroom twice, feeling as if he was “dragged there,” and fighting the urge to kill him.
He also said he had fantasized about killing another boy by slitting his throat as he stood in the bathroom at school.
Dr. Don Olive, a forensic psychologist from Indianapolis, said Conley understood that what he was doing was wrong. In the videos, Conley repeatedly refers to himself as a “monster” and says he deserves whatever punishment he gets.
Olive said Conley suffered from severe depression and showed symptoms of anti-social disorder and borderline personality disorder. He said he showed an inability to control his impulses and a lack of empathy.
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