10-31-2006, 02:47 PM
The Jill Behrman murder trial is over. Jon Myers was found guilty in 50 minutes.
Jill Behrman's father said "closure" would only happen if Jill were still alive. I cannot think of him without choking up, the thought of a father searching for his daughter, finding out she'd been brutally murdered- it's incomprehensible to imagine how he and his wife get through each day without dropping into a puddle of tears.
Bloomington has taken Jill's murder personally. There is an annual 1/2 marathon named after her, there is a cancer treatment facility named after her, and in general I think I can say we all think of her as our kid now. We lived for years knowing first that she was probably dead, then that she was certainly dead, then finally that she had actually been murdered, and quite probably raped and beaten. Many in town shared my sadness upon finding out the real story. Up until then, I felt that in some way her death had been tragic, but not brutal, that someone had collided with her on her bike and then panicked and disposed of her body. I had held out hope for her parents that they could at least live with the death of their daughter as an accident. Instead, the truth was that she had been abducted, brutalized and killed.
I'm a dad. I have a daughter. There is nothing more fearful to me than her facing danger without me being able to protect her. God rest your soul Jill, and bring comfort to her mother and father.
10-31-2006, 03:26 PM
I usually keep up on these things, but had to do a Google search on this one. Thought I'd share a story I found at http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061030/LOCAL/610300453
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. -- Jurors say testimony from the defendant's family and a trip over the weekend to the site where Jill Behrman's body was found led them Monday to quickly conclude John R. Myers II was responsible for the IU student's death.
The 12-person panel of Morgan County residents deliberated 50 minutes before convicting the Ellettsville handyman of a single felony count of murder. The quick verdict brought an abrupt end to an emotional story that stretched more than six years since Behrman went missing May 31, 2000.
Jurors praised Betty Swaffard, Myers' grandmother, who in December 2004 was talking with Myers about the welfare of his youngest daughter. Swaffard testified that Myers appeared distraught.
When she asked him what was bothering him, he said: "If the authorities knew what I have done, I would go to prison for the rest of my life."
Myers' aunt, Debbie Bell, Tennessee, had also shared with investigators concerns about comments Myers made that implied guilt in Behrman's death.
"The testimony from the defendant's grandmother and the defendant's aunt and his former girlfriend were the top three" pieces of evidence, said one juror, a 21-year-old man. Five panel members agreed to talk to reporters after the verdict, provided their names were not used. The juror works in customer service.
Behrman, a 19-year-old IU student, vanished after a training bike ride through hilly northern Monroe County. Her remains were found March 9, 2003, in a desolate area of southwestern Morgan County. She died of a shotgun blast to the back of the head.
Jurors said a visit Sunday to the wooded area where Behrman's remains were recovered helped them pull together testimony from Myers' former girlfriend. Carly Goodman had tearfully recalled to jurors that Myers had taken her to the same site in March 2000. Investigators maintain Myers killed Behrman because he was angry about breaking up with Goodman.
"As we drove there yesterday and saw the location and reflected on how Carly was acting when she was talking about that, and knowing she was there, that was a very important factor to deciding," said another juror, a 32-year-old man who also works in customer service.
The quick verdict seemed to catch the Behrman family by surprise. Jill Behrman's parents had made dinner reservations Monday night and seemed to be ready for a long evening. "It's kind of a numbing feeling," said Eric Behrman, Jill's father. "It's resolution." Sentencing was set for 9 a.m. Dec. 1. Myers faces up to 65 years if he is convicted.
Myers, 31, seemed stoic as the unanimous decision was read just after 6:15 p.m. by Superior Court Judge Christopher Burnham, who then affirmed the votes by the six men and six women. The jurors had been sequestered since the first day of trial Oct. 16. They had listened to closing arguments from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and were expected to work until 10 p.m. deliberating. Instead, at 5:20 p.m., Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline called everyone back into the Morgan County Courthouse.
Myers' friends and family did not comment to reporters immediately after the verdict. One of Myers' younger brothers, Sam, said: "Good luck, John" as Myers was handcuffed and escorted out of the building. The jurors on Sunday were secretly brought by vans to view 18 locations in Monroe and Morgan counties -- including the locations where Behrman's bicycle was found the day of her disappearance. They also viewed the wooded remote area north of Paragon where her body was found.
Myers' defense team repeatedly talked about the circumstantial nature of the case against their client. They said investigators had not looked hard enough at whether Behrman was pregnant at the time of her death and the possibility that the man she was involved with was responsible. The jurors said they weren't swayed by those arguments and were impressed by the legwork done by investigators including State Police Detective Rick Lang.
"We always believed we had the right person," said Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega. "The challenge was proving it in a court of law."
Closing arguments were supposed to commence at 9 a.m. Monday but got pushed to 1 p.m. after an internal issue involving the jury. Officials would not give specifics. A juror was removed from the case Friday, but that apparently stemmed from family reasons.
Burnham lectured each juror Monday about sticking only to testimony they heard during the trial. At one point there were fears of a mistrial or perhaps a lengthy delay. During final arguments, Sonnega made a power-point demonstration that included a color photo of Myers' face along with 15 arrows pointing to the names of people or evidence linking Myers to Jill Behrman's death. Sonnega asked the jury to use their "common sense" by convicting Myers of the killing of the Indiana University student. During his time before jurors, Patrick Baker, who did not have any elaborate computer setup, held up a blank sheet of paper before the jury.
"Here's the evidence against Johnny Myers," said Baker. "Nothing -- because it does not exist."
10-31-2006, 03:55 PM
very sad story. I wonder if it really over.
Here are good links if you are interested.
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