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Last updated on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
(PAOLI) - Sentencing is set for May 22 for Sterlen Keller, who was cleared of a murder charge by an Orange County jury last month but was convicted of burglary, theft, auto theft and failure to report a dead body.
Roger Moon, of the Times-Mail, reports Keller's sentencing will take place at 1:30 p.m. in Orange Circuit Court.
Keller, 24, Salem, was one of two men charged with murder in the October 2010 death of 79-year-old Robert Collier whose badly decomposed body was found behind the barn on his property near Bromer. Keller was represented in court by Bedford attorney Nick Herthel.
The other man arrested in Collier's death was Marvin Noland, 20, Pekin. Both men have been jailed in Orange County since October 2010.
Noland is scheduled to go on trial in Orange Circuit Court on Aug. 21.
During Keller's nearly two-week trial, Orange County Prosecutor Kelly Minton argued that Keller had killed Collier for financial gain and had stolen vehicles and other farm-related scrap materials, which he sold to a salvage business near Salem. The jury also found Keller guilty of taking and cashing checks that belonged to Collier.
In recorded police interviews admitted as evidence in the trial, Keller said he had seen Collier's body on the property more than once but had chosen not to report the discovery to authorities.
The conviction that carries the longest sentence is burglary, which is a Class B felony. It carries a fixed term of between 6 and 20 years with the advisory sentence being 10 years. Theft and auto theft are each Class D felonies, which carry a sentence from six months to three years with the advisory sentence being one and half years. Failure to report a body is a Class A misdemeanor and the fixed term is not more than one year.
The May 22 sentencing date will not be Keller's final time in the courtroom.
He will face another jury trial in Orange Circuit Court on June 26 for charges that were filed in February.
He is charged with two counts of a prisoner possessing a dangerous device or material, both Class D felonies, and with three counts of trafficking with an inmate, both Class C felonies.
The five additional felony counts filed against Keller allege that he possessed two different deadly weapons and a controlled substance on Feb. 15 while in jail. Authorities allege Keller possessed an earpiece from a pair of eyeglasses that had been filed to a sharp point "intended to be used in a manner that is readily capable of causing bodily injury." The second count reads identically except to identify the weapon as "a length of thick, metal wire with sharp ends."
Two of the three counts on trafficking with an inmate allege Keller, "without prior authorization of the person in charge of the Orange County Security Center," possessed the weapons identified in the aforementioned counts. The remaining count of trafficking with an inmate alleges Keller, "without prior authorization" was in possession of a controlled substance, Ibuprofen.
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