Alleged Ind. murder accomplice freed over error

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm •  Published: November 3, 2012
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ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman who spent eight years behind bars for the killing of a blind 94-year-old woman has been freed, after a fingerprint that was prosecutors' crucial piece of evidence against her was found not to be hers, after all.

Lana Canen, 53, was released Friday from the Elkhart County Jail after a judge who overturned her 2005 murder conviction in the Thanksgiving Day 2002 slaying of Helen Sailor ordered her freed, WSBT-TV and WNDU-TV reported.

Canen maintains that she had nothing to do with killing Sailor. At her trial, prosecutors said she conspired with her co-defendant, Andrew Royer, to rob Sailor, and that Royer strangled the woman. Both were convicted and given 55-year prison sentences.

Canen appealed her conviction and earlier this year, an Arizona fingerprint expert discovered that an Elkhart County sheriff's detective, Dennis Chapman, had misidentified a fingerprint found on a pill bottle in Sailor's apartment as Canen's.

Prosecutor Curtis Hill said the fingerprint was a central part of the case against Canen and that without it, he couldn't prove she was involved.

"There's just not an ability for me in good conscience to go forward and suggest that we have a sufficient amount to support a prosecution," Hill said.

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