Appeals court reverses ruling in IU student’s 2000 killing

A man convicted of killing an Indiana University student in 2000 will likely stay in prison for another 17 years, until the end of his sentence, under a federal court's ruling in the long-running case.

Posted: Aug 6, 2020 10:51 AM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A man convicted of killing an Indiana University student in 2000 will likely stay in prison for another 17 years, until the end of his sentence, under a federal court's ruling in the long-running case.

A three-judge panel of the Chicago-based U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed U.S. District Judge James Sweeney's order that had called for 44-year-old John Myers II to be released from prison, The Herald-Times reported. Myers was convicted in 2006 in the killing of 19-year-old Jill Behrman and sentenced to 65 years in prison.

In September 2019, Sweeney vacated Myers' conviction and ordered his release from prison. He ruled that Myers' legal representation during his murder trial was so ineffective that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated.

On Tuesday, the panel ruled that jurors would still have convicted Myers, even without the errors by his counsel.

“Because of the strength of the evidence presented at trial, our confidence in the jury’s decision is not undermined,” the ruling states. “Myers has fallen short of demonstrating what the Supreme Court has told us is essential to relief rooted in a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel — that the likelihood of a different result must be substantial."

Behrman was an IU sophomore when she disappeared in May 2000 while riding her bicycle near Bloomington. Her fate was a mystery until hunters found her remains in 2003 in Morgan County, north of Bloomington. She had been shot in the back of the head.

Investigators concluded that Myers killed Behrman out of anger over a failed relationship.

Berhman’s father, Eric Behrman, said he was overjoyed by the news that Myers will stay behind bars and that after two decades he's hopeful the court battles and appeals process are finally over.

“Twenty years has been quite a long time to be dealing with this, not only for family members but also friends and the community," he said.

Behrman's mother, Marilyn Behrman, said Tuesday's ruling made it “a hallelujah day for me."

“This ruling does give Jill, and all of us, some measure of justice," she said.

Myers is serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. State correction department records show that his expected release date is June 8, 2037.

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