Convicted killer Pender's appeal denied
Last Updated: 92 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A prosecutor has rejected a plea deal that would free an Indianapolis woman from prison after serving 13 years for her role in the shotgun slayings of two roommates, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Curry has notified the attorney for Sarah Jo Pender that he has denied her request for a modified sentence, spokeswoman Peg McLeish told The Indianapolis Star.
Several legal experts including the deputy prosecutor who led the case against Pender believe she was wrongly convicted of two counts of murder in the 2000 slayings of Andrew Cataldi and Tricia Nordman.
Had Curry accepted the petition that would have Pender plead guilty to assisting a criminal -- a charge that carries a maximum sentence of eight years -- it would have expedited her release from prison. Now Pender must petition an appeals court for relief.
Pender's attorney, Cara Wieneke, called Curry's decision frustrating.
A so-called "snitch list" discovered in 2009 would have called into question the testimony of a key witness in Pender's trial, the Star has reported. Experts have said it should have been given to Pender's defense attorney in 2002, but it was not.
Retired deputy prosecutor Larry Sells, who said during the trial that Pender manipulated her boyfriend into committing the slayings, said he believes the woman was wrongly convicted based on that evidence.
Pender has acknowledged assisting her former boyfriend, Richard Hull, in the killings. She said she bought the weapon used in the killings and helped Hull clean up and hide afterward. Hull is serving a 90-year sentence for the murders.
Pender escaped from prison in 2008 and was named on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list before she was captured 4 1/2 months later while living in Chicago.
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