A man who was convicted of murder, then exonerated and freed after 17 years in prison, is suing nine Elkhart cops, the city, the county, and the Elkhart County prosecutor. Andy Royer’s attorney says what happened to his client was not an isolated incident.
The lawsuit says police knew that Royer had the “mind of a child” when they interrogated him for two days, unrecorded for the most part, after the murder of 94-year-old Helen Sailor.
The suit also claims police fabricated evidence and had a witness give false testimony. Royer went to prison despite there being no physical evidence tying him to Sailor’s murder.
The officers named are Carlton Conway, Mark Daggy, Paul Converse, Peggy Snider, Todd Thayer, Michael Sigsbee, Joel Bourdon, Brett Coppins, and Dennis Chapman. The prosecutor was Vicki Becker, who now serves as the Elkhart County prosecutor.
“Carl Conway interrogated Andy Royer over two days, without recording it and coerced a false confession,” said Royer’s attorney Elliot Slosar, at an earlier press conference. He said Thursday, when the lawsuit was announced, that he believes Elkhart police have engaged in the same type of activity with other cases.
“While Andy’s wrongful conviction is a travesty of justice, it did not occur in isolation. Andy is the fifth Elkhart exoneree, a startling statistic for a community of this size. Andy’s case demonstrates a pattern of police misconduct in the halls of the Elkhart Police Department and the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Slosar.
“Mr. Royer brings this lawsuit to get justice for the years lost and to hold those responsible for his wrongful conviction accountable for their egregious misconduct,” he said.
Royer was released from prison two years ago and was exonerated in July.