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Last updated on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
(PAOLI ) - Jury selection began Tuesday in Orange Circuit Court in the trial of 24-year-old Sterlen Shane Keller, who is charged with murder in the strangulation death of Robert Collier.
The trial had been scheduled for February but was continued by Judge Larry Blanton after additional charges were filed against Keller in relation to homemade weapons found in his jail cell.
Those who had been told to report to court in February as potential jurors were told not to report after the additional charges were filed against Keller, who is from Salem. Just before the trial was to start, Keller was charged with two counts of a prisoner possessing dangerous device or material, both Class D felonies, and with three counts of trafficking with an inmate, both Class C felonies.
Keller is one of two men who were charged in October 2010 after Collier's body was found behind the barn on his property near Bromer. The other man arrested in Collier's death was Marvin Noland, 20, Pekin.
In addition to being charged with murder, each man also is charged with auto theft, a Class D felony, and failure to report a dead body, a Class A misdemeanor.
Noland's trial was scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed. A new date has not been set.
Nick Herthel is Keller's court-appointed public defender. Dave Smith was appointed to represent Noland.
A report filed by Detective Rick Magill from the Indiana State Police Jasper Post states Orange County Sheriff's Department Detective Denis Lanham went to Collier's home at 5952 N. County Road 650 E., Orleans, after receiving a call from Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy Rickie Stewart, who said a welfare check had been requested.
The report states Stewart "was told that there had been a rumor going around that Sterlen Keller and Marvin Noland were in possession of a possible stolen truck and that they had possibly killed a person."
Stewart had been given information by Joe Howell Sr., Keller's stepfather, that a truck registered to Collier was in Keller's possession. Arriving at the Collier residence, Lanham first checked around the residence and no one answered. He then "checked the area around the outbuildings and he located a human body that appeared to be in advanced state of decomposition," the report states.
Authorities then contacted family members of Keller and Noland, and the men were taken to the Washington County Jail for questioning. They subsequently were arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail.
The police report states Collier was home when Keller and Noland went to his property and the three men began looking at a fuel tank for scrap, Noland told police he heard a noise and turned around to see Keller strangling Collier. Noland said he didn't try to stop Keller and he "turned away and prayed."
Keller told detectives he saw Collier's body, but denied killing him.
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