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Last updated on Wednesday, May 22, 2013
(MARTINSVILLE) - The second week of court hearings began Tuesday to determine if John Myers had ineffective legal counsel during his trial.
Myers convicted of killing Indiana University coed Jill Behrman in 2000 arrived in a Morgan County courtroom in shackles Tuesday morning to hear his attorneys argue that his original trial lawyer was incompetent.
John Myers is serving a 65 year sentence for killing Behrman, who left home on a bicycle ride on May 31, 2000. Several years later her remains were found in a rural Morgan County area. Behrman suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Myers was represented at trial by attorney Pat Baker.
His current lawyers argue that Baker improperly solicited Myers inside the Morgan County Jail, misled jurors during the trial and mistakenly told his indigent defendant that he would have to pay for an appeal. In court documents, Myers' attorneys allege five pages of oversights, errors and failings committed by Baker.
In 2011, the Indiana Supreme Court's disciplinary commission ruled that attorney Patrick V. Baker violated Indiana's Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers. They said he should not have solicited Myers, and that he misled jurors with theories of the crime without evidence to support his allegations. He also violated rules of conduct when he told Myers' family they had to pay for appeals-related costs even though the court had declared Myers was indigent and entitled to free representation.
Baker was suspended from the Indiana Bar Association and from practicing law for his actions in the case. He is trying to get his license back, and testified last month he represented Myers well and believes his former client is innocent.
Lawyers from the Indiana Public Defender's Office have spent two years compiling evidence to try to convince the judge that Myers got a bad deal. They are seeking post-conviction relief, which can be granted in cases where "there exists evidence of material facts, not previously presented and heard, that requires vacation of the conviction or sentence in the interest of justice.
On Tuesday Baker made a public apology for his actions during the trial.
The apology came after Baker completed his testimony. Baker was still on the stand when he asked the judge if he could address the families. The judge had just placed the court in recess and left the room.
Baker first addressed John Myers and his mother saying he had done things during the trial that he shouldn't have done ethically.
John Myers sat a few feet away and watched Baker. Myers' mother, sitting in the gallery, turned her back and appeared to ignore the former attorney.
Baker then went on to address Eric Behrman, father of murder victim Jill Behrman.
"I want to apologize, Baker said. "I know you went through a lot. I know I had to bring some things out in your daughter's personal life that were not too pleasant."
Baker then went on to say how hard it was for him to miss his daughter's softball game over the weekend so he knew how hard it must be for the Behrman's to be dealing with the loss of their daughter.
Eric Behrman found the apology inappropriate saying Baker just doesn't get it.
Myers, now 37, was indicted by a grand jury that heard testimony from nearly 100 witnesses before handing down a murder charge. A sequestered jury then found Myers guilty after a two-week trial. His sentence is the maximum for murder in Indiana, and his release date is April 7, 2038. He receives two days of credit for each one served.
Behrman, who grew up in Bloomington, disappeared while on a bike ride on May 31, 2000. During the time she was missing, a woman came forth and implicated herself and others in the killing, saying they had struck Behrman while driving and tossed her body into a creek. A forensic pathologist determined Behrman had died from a gunshot wound to the head. The 19-year-old's remains were found in Morgan County a decade ago by a father and son out turkey hunting.
Wendy Owings testified during the April portion of the hearing that she had made that story up, hoping to get out of jail if she admitted her involvement. And she told Marilyn Behrman, the victim's mother, that she was sorry for lying.
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