Murder conviction overturned, Canen released
ELKHART, Ind. -- An Elkhart woman convicted of murder is free from prison after serving close to eight years for the crime. Today she was released after a review of the evidence in August revealed there was no evidence she was ever at the crime scene.
Lana Canen, 53, was convicted of killing 94-year-old Helen Sailor at the Waterfall high rise apartments on Thanksgiving of 2002.
Prosecutors originally said Canen's fingerprints were found on the victim's pill bottle. She was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
"All of our family has known she's innocent from the start so we have just been waiting for this,” said Sandra Brinson, Lana’s mother.
Brinson has been waiting eight years while her daughter was held in a Rockville prison.
"As of this moment Ms. Canen has been released from custody and is no longer charged with murder in Elkhart County,” said Curtis Hill, Elkhart County prosecutor.
A prescription bottle is what put her away but now that same bottle and fingerprint is clearing her.
“The fingerprint testimony and the fingerprint exam was the central part that placed Canen at the scene and was supporting the theory of the prosecution of the case,” said Hill.
Canen's attorney, Cara Weineke, hired an expert fingerprint analyst to compare the print found on the pill bottle in the murder victim’s room to Canen's and they did not match. Det. Dennis Chapman, the investigator form Elkhart County Sheriff's Department who did the initial examination of the fingerprints acknowledged the prints didn't match after running another comparision.
“When Detective Chapman reviewed the information that was supplied by counsel for Miss Canen he was able to determine that information was better that his information and he had been wrong,” said Hill.
During Canen's jury trial in 2005, Detective Chapman is the officer who testified that the fingerprint belonged to Canen.
“This case is very unusual. Certainly we do not take this action on many situations and we hope to not have to take this type of action,” said Hill.
“There will be no trial or nothing else. It’s over finally. I'm just glad it's over I can get some rest now," said Brinson.
Curtis Hill stressed having expert witnesses is a critical part of his prosecution team. He specified in this case Elkhart City Police used detective Chapman with the sheriff's department to do the fingerprint work because he has training in the field.
Brinson said her daughter is making her way back to Elkhart where she will live at her Elkhart home until she gets her feet back on the ground.
Andrew Royer is serving a 55 year sentence in his involvement of the murder of Sailor on November 29th, 2002. Hill said The 94 year old was strangled to death and today's developments has nothing to do with his case.
Now in July of 2018, Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker is requesting an injunction to keep Royer's attorney from speaking in public about the case as Royer is working to get a new trial.
Royer's attorney had previously filed a petition to vacate Royer's conviction in 2005.