A Mentally Challenged Guy From Indiana Settles For $11.7 Million In A Case Of Wrongful Conviction

A $11.7 million settlement has been struck between a northern Indiana city and former police officers and a mentally challenged man who was falsely convicted in the death of a 94-year-old woman, according to his attorneys on Friday.

A Mentally Challenged Guy From Indiana Settles For $11.7 Million In A Case Of Wrongful Conviction

According to Elliot Slosar, one of Andrew Royer’s attorneys, the payout for the man who spent 16 years in prison before confessing to killing Helen Sailor is the largest recorded Indiana settlement in a wrongful conviction case.

“It is no coincidence that Andy received the largest wrongful conviction settlement in Indiana history,” Slosar said in a statement. “Andy was among the most vulnerable in our society when he was coerced into a false confession and framed for a crime he did not commit.”

In 2005, a jury found Royer guilty of murder; he was given a 55-year jail sentence for the November 2002 killing of Sailor, who was discovered strangled in her Elkhart apartment.

Royer’s attorneys contended on appeal that an Elkhart police investigator took advantage of their client’s mental illness and that their client was pressured into confessing to Sailor’s murder during a two-day interrogation.

In 2020, Royer was granted a second trial by a special judge, which resulted in his release from prison. Royer’s confession was deemed “unreliable” and “involuntary” by the judge, who also claimed that the detectives had falsified evidence, coerced a witness into giving a false statement, and concealed incriminating information from his lawyers.

The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that Royer’s rights were violated and that the investigator had committed perjury when he testified during the trial that Royer knew things that only the killer would have known, following the prosecution’s attempt to have the judge’s ruling overturned.

Prosecutors abandoned the case against Royer in 2021 after deciding not to try him again.

In 2022, Royer’s lawyers filed lawsuits against the city of Elkhart, its police force, and other parties. Allegations against the city and the police department are resolved by the settlement that was revealed on Friday.

Royer is currently pursuing his claims against the county prosecutor and other Elkhart County authorities.

The Associated Press left messages Friday with the Elkhart legal department and mayor’s office for comment on the settlement.

The Indianapolis Star was informed by Goshen resident Royer that the settlement funds would “change my life.”

“I am now financially set for the rest of my life. I hope to help my family as much as I can,” he said.

The latest instance of the city of Elkhart agreeing to pay a substantial amount to resolve claims of alarming police misconduct is the settlement with Royer.

To resolve a Chicago man’s lawsuit alleging wrongful conviction, the city agreed to pay him $7.5 million last year. After serving more than seven years in jail for an armed robbery he did not commit, Keith Cooper was granted a pardon.

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