Recap of day 2 of the "Prom Night Murders" post-conviction hearings

NOW: Recap of day 2 of the “Prom Night Murders“ post-conviction hearings

ST. JOSEPH CO., Ind.,--The evidentiary hearings continue for the man convicted of the 1989 prom night murders. Jeff Pelley was charged in 2002 with the murders of his father, stepmother and two young stepsisters that took place on his prom night. It was reported that Pelley killed his father because he couldn’t go to after-prom activities, but his defense argued that he was not involved in the murder because crucial evidence was either ignored or mis-portrayed during his original trial.

This week, Pelley hopes for another chance to defend his innocence as he and his lawyers are providing new evidence for a new trial. Pelley's defense team argued that he didn't get a fair trial back in 2006, and that critical testimony was missing.

On Monday, Pelley’s defense argued that evidence was mishandled and/or misrepresented to his original jury; and on Tuesday, the defense claimed that his original trial was missing a critical testimony. The testimony suggested that, Bob Pelley, one of the victims and the suspect’s father, was involved in shady business dealings and money laundering from his previous job in Florida where he worked for a bank.

The court heard from Toni Beehler who sold church programs and portraits of parishioners. In 2003, Beehler was interviewed when the case re-opened. That interview was recorded, and the recording was shared with the court on Tuesday. She shared a conversation she had with Rev. Bob Pelley in 1989.

He had her place her hand on the bible and explained to her why he did not want to be photographed. He disclosed that he previously worked at a bank in Florida where he worked with the mob and “moved money for bad guys.”

Beehler stated that Bob Pelley confided in her saying the church program tipped off his past associates to his whereabouts.

“They are going to kill each member of my family. I’m going to watch and they’re going to kill me,“ Bob Pelley told Beehler back in 1989.

Bob and his family were murdered days after their conversation.

In addition to Beehler’s testimony, Tuesday’s witnesses included Elaine Battles, the Saint Joseph County officer who interviewed his sister and surviving stepsister. She clarified how evidence was handled in the process of the investigation and claimed that Beehler’s recorded interview was not shared with the original defense. A secretary at the Saint Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office testified. John Botich also testified; he was an investigator at the Saint Joseph County Police Office, who located Jeff Pelley in Illinois in 1989.

Witnesses also included sergeant John Stephen Kuhny with the St. Joseph County Police Department who responded to the crime in 1989. He claimed to have seen jeans in the washer but did not know who took them out. The pair of jeans was a topic of debate with mixed messages on where the jeans came from and how the evidence was handled at the crime scene.

There was also Tim Decker from the Saint Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office; he was a cold case investigator in the homicide unit in 2003 during Jeff Pelley’s conviction. Decker had concerns about Beehler’s statement, and said that some of it did not make sense and was not in the right chronological order. He also said that the FBI investigated the bank, and Beehler did not provide any specifics. Decker also claimed that at the time he did not think it was his decision to change the course of the investigation due to the witness’s claim; it was his job to share the video and report to the prosecutor who would follow up if needed.

The hearings continue Wednesday morning.

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