Mother says Indiana teen joked, ate popcorn morning after killing 10-year-old brother

By Charles D. Wilson, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Mother says Ind. teen joked after killing brother

RISING SUN, Ind. — A teenager who strangled his 10-year-old brother joked around the following morning and seemed calm, even eating popcorn, the boys’ mother testified in a video deposition played in court Friday.

Bridget Conley said her older son, Andrew Conley, seemed “fine” when she arrived home from her overnight shift at a casino last November.

During taped interviews played earlier at his sentencing, an emotionless Andrew Conley described in details how hours earlier, he strangled his brother Connor, dragged him to his car and stuffed him in the trunk. He also said he stood over his sleeping father with a knife and fought the urge to stab him.

Bridget Conley, who did not attend Friday’s sentencing hearing, told detectives that she sought counseling for Andrew in the days before the murder because he had claimed to have attempted suicide. She said she didn’t believe the claim.

Andrew Conley, 18, unexpectedly pleaded guilty Monday to murdering his brother as his trial was about to begin. He faces 45 years to life in prison, but can’t be put to death because he was 17 when the Nov. 28 slaying occurred.

Prosecutors, who are seeking a life sentence for the teen, were expected to wrap up their case Friday. Defense attorneys will then present their case.

Several experts are expected to testify about Conley’s mental state — a key issue as a judge considers how long he will stay in prison.

On Thursday, prosecutors played a videotape of Conley in which he used a green Care Bear doll to show a state police detective how he strangled his brother, Conner Conley, in the kitchen of their home in the small Ohio River town of Rising Sun.

A psychologist who examined Conley testified 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 that included Conley reading books about serial killers and visiting his girlfriend with his brother’s body stashed in his car’s trunk.

Prosecutors played audio of his questioning by detectives in which he described his brother yelling for him to stop as he choked the child. Conley also told detectives he had thought about killing people since he was in eighth grade and identified with the TV serial killer Dexter.

Conley appeared 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.

On video, Conley shows detective Tom Baxter how the killing began with play-wrestling in the bedroom he and his brother shared and he demonstrates the chokehold he used.

He then shows how he dragged his unconscious brother into the kitchen, and 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 to 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 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 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.

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