Indiana teen uses stuffed Care Bear doll to show police how he strangled 10-year-old brother

By Charles D. Wilson, AP
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teen uses Care Bear to show how he killed brother

RISING SUN, Ind. — An Indiana teenager who pleaded guilty to murder used a green Care Bear doll to show police how he strangled his 10-year-old brother in the kitchen of their home, and told authorities he had also thought about killing his father and a schoolmate.

In a video played Thursday at the sentencing hearing for 18-year-old Andrew Conley, the teenager shows a state police detective how the killing began with play-wrestling in the bedroom they shared, and demonstrated the chokehold he used on Conner Conley.

He then shows how he dragged the unconscious child into the kitchen, and detective Tom Baxter hands him the stuffed bear to demonstrate what he did next. Conley squeezes the bear’s neck, first with two hands, then with just one. The teen also shows Baxter the route he took as he dragged his brother’s body into the basement and then outside, where he loaded it into the trunk of his car.

Conley broke down earlier while watching another video of himself describing the killing in graphic detail, and asked to be excused from the courtroom. The judge denied that but did recess the court.

Conley unexpectedly pleaded guilty to murder Monday as his trial was about to begin. He could face from 45 years to life in prison, but can’t face the death penalty because he was 17 when the murder in the small Ohio River town of Rising Sun occurred last Nov. 28.

A psychologist who examined Conley testified Thursday he was mentally ill, but not legally insane.

Prosecutors spent much of their time Thursday on evidence that portrayed the killing as a pattern of behavior, including Conley reading books about serial killers and visiting his girlfriend with his brother’s body stashed in the trunk of his car.

In one video, Conley told police he stood over his sleeping father with a knife in his hand and thought about killing him, the morning after he killed his brother and dumped his body in a park. He said he went into his father’s bedroom twice, feeling as if he was “dragged there,” and fighting the urge to kill him.

He also said he had fantasized about killing another boy who he described as a “jerk” by slitting his throat as he stood in the bathroom at school.

Dr. Don Olive, a forensic psychologist from Indianapolis, said Conley understood that what he was doing was wrong. In the videos, Conley repeatedly refers to himself as a “monster” and says he deserves whatever punishment he gets.

Olive, one of several experts expected to testify about Conley’s mental state, said Conley suffered from severe depression and showed symptoms of anti-social disorder and borderline personality disorder. He said he showed an inability to control his impulses and a lack of empathy.

He seemed calm in the video, but hung his head and visibly fought for control in court Thursday while watching himself describe the murder to detectives. Ohio Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey recessed court twice for a total of nearly an hour as Conley tried to regain his composure.

Defense attorney Gary Sorge told the judge that Conley wanted to be excused from the courtroom because he couldn’t “bear to hear any more.” Humphrey said it was important that Conley be present to exercise his rights.

It was the second day of the sentencing hearing, which reconvenes Friday and may not end until Monday.

The hearing was interrupted by several recesses as the judge met with attorneys from both sides in chambers to discuss legal issues including whether evidence that could tend to portray the youth as a psychopath was admissible.

Humphrey sharply limited questioning of Olive by Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard along those lines. Afterward, he said he had heard no evidence and drawn no conclusions about whether Conley was a psychopath.

Conley’s former girlfriend, Alexis Murafski, also testified Thursday, saying that on the night he killed his brother Conley had brought her a promise ring and she hadn’t noticed anything unusual about him. He was “happier than I’d seen him in a long time,” she said.

“He said he loved me and he would always be there for me,” she said.

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