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Indiana woman appeals her double murder conviction

In this April 18 2013 phoSarah Jo Pender gives an interview from IndianWomen's PrisIndianapolis.  An attorney for  Pender

In this April 18, 2013 photo, Sarah Jo Pender gives an interview from Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis. An attorney for Pender, who is serving a 110-year sentence for her role in the shotgun slayings of her two roommates, has asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn her conviction. Attorney Cara Wieneke contends in the appeal filed Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, that Marion County prosecutors used flawed and fabricated evidence to convict Pender of two murder counts in 2002. Pender's boyfriend, Richard Hull, was also convicted in the 2000 slayings of Andrew Cataldi and Tricia Nordman and is serving a 90-year sentence. A retired deputy prosecutor uncovered new information in 2009 he said suggests he unknowingly presented false evidence to Pender's jury. Marion County's current prosecutor rejected a plea deal in September that would have freed Pender from prison. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Danese Kenon) NO SALES

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Updated: November 8, 2013 11:24PM



INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for an Indianapolis woman serving a 110-year sentence for her role in the shotgun slayings of her two roommates has asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn her conviction, arguing that evidence that came to light in 2009 shows she did not receive a fair trial.

Attorney Cara Wieneke contends in the appeal filed Thursday that Marion County prosecutors used flawed and fabricated evidence to convict Sarah Jo Pender of two murder counts in 2002.

“If the trial were held today, it would be a much different case,” Wieneke wrote in the appeal.

A retired deputy prosecutor, Larry Sells, uncovered new information in 2009 he said suggests that he unknowingly presented false evidence to Pender’s jury, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The heart of that evidence is a so-called “snitch list” document signed by a key state witness that legal experts say should have been given to Pender’s defense but was not.

Experts say that document would have refuted the testimony of jail inmate Floyd Pennington — who testified that Pender had confessed to her role in the killings while they both were detained at a hospital.

Wieneke said she recently discovered a second letter that Pennington wrote to prosecutors that also should have been turned over to the defense.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman and Joel Schumm, a criminal law professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, have said the discovery of the previously undisclosed documents gives Pender a convincing argument for a new trial.

Marion County’s current prosecutor rejected a plea deal in September that would have freed Pender from prison.

Pender has acknowledged assisting her boyfriend, Richard Hull, in the killings. Hull was also convicted in the 2000 slayings of Andrew Cataldi and Tricia Nordman, and is serving a 90-year sentence.

Pender, 34, has said she bought the weapon used in the killings and helped Hull clean up and hide afterward.

She escaped from prison in 2008 and was named on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list before being recaptured 4 1/2 months later in Chicago.



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