(Rising Sun, Ind.) – An Ohio County teenager’s sentence of life in prison without parole has been upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Andrew Conley was 17 when he murdered his ten-year-old brother, Conner, in their Ohio County home in November 2009. Conley equated his urge to kill to that of a starving person craving a hamburger. He told investigators he felt like the serial killer portrayed in the Showtime television series “Dexter.”
He was 18 when he pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Ohio Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey to life without parole in October 2010.
Conley, now age 20, immediately appealed the sentence. His attorney Leanna Weissmann argued the Humphrey did not properly consider Conley’s mental illness in handing down the sentence.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court ruled 3-2 to uphold the court’s punishment. “The heinous facts of this crime are difficult to comprehend,” the majority ruling read.
Life punishment is appropriate because Conley’s little brother suffered during the drawn out murder, justices said.
“The judge was within his discretion in weighing the mitigating factors in the manner in which he did. Ultimately, we find no abuse of discretion in Judge Humphrey’s analysis of those factors and ultimate sentence of life without parole,” Justice Steven H. David wrote on behalf of the majority.
Had the justices reduced his sentence to 55 years as sought, Conley could have been out of prison when he reaches his 40s.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that courts could not make life in prison without parole sentences mandatory. The justices did leave open the possibility that individual judges could issue the sentence to juveniles in individual murder cases.
Andrew told investigators he and his kid brother were wrestling in the living room of their Hartford Pike Road home when he strangled the boy to death with his hands. Andrew placed a bag over Conner’s head.
The teen then dumped Conner’s body in a wooded area near the Rising Sun City Park. He visited his girlfriend who later remarked to detectives that Andrew was “the happiest I’ve ever seen him.”
He went to the Rising Sun Police Department hours later to tell officers what he had done.