BY: The Exoneration Project

New Evidence, New Appeal in Royer Case


With an Intellectual Disability, Andrew Royer Falsely Confessed to a Crime He Did Not Commit.  His Co-defendant, Lana Canen, Has Already Been Exonerated.  Today, a Petition to Vacate Mr. Royer’s Wrongful Conviction was Filed

June 13, 2018, Elkhart, IN – Attorneys for Andrew Royer filed a Motion to Vacate his Wrongful Conviction today in Elkhart County.

Background: Mr. Royer, 43, with no prior criminal record, was wrongfully convicted of a 2002 murder in Elkhart, Indiana. Mr. Royer had nothing to do with the crime, but police took advantage of his intellectual disability to compel his false confession.  Mr. Royer’s case represents a disturbing pattern of flagrant and egregious police misconduct in Elkhart, where a growing list of wrongful convictions is coming to light in the town of roughly 50,000 people.  Lana Canen, Mr. Royer’s co-defendant in the murder case, was exonerated in 2012 after fingerprints found at the crime scene were proved not to be hers.  Another Elkhart exoneree, Keith Cooper, also had no prior criminal record before he was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in 1997.  Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb pardoned Cooper in 2017 based upon his actual innocence.

There was never a shred of physical evidence linking Mr. Royer to the murder of Helen Sailor.  At trial, an Elkhart Sheriff’s Department Detective testified that a latent print matched Mr. Royer’s co-defendant, Lana Canen.  Since then, Ms. Canen’s conviction has been reversed and the case dismissed – at the request of the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office – because the latent print actually excluded her.   Although Ms. Canen was exonerated more than six years ago, Mr. Royer continues to languish in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Attached to Mr. Royer’s are 20 affidavits and multiple recorded conversations, including several from former Elkhart police officers who support his claims of innocence.

The evidence supporting Mr. Royer’s innocence is explosive. A former Lt. at the Elkhart Police Department confessed in an affidavit that she witnessed an Elkhart detective coerce Mr. Royer into giving a false confession.  This Lt. further revealed that she has always believed that another individual was responsible for the murder and is “surprised” that Mr. Royer continues to remain wrongfully convicted.  Even more, the State’s star witness at trial, Nina Porter, has revealed that her statement and subsequent testimony was false, fabricated, and coerced out of her by Elkhart police officers.  Put simply, nearly all the third-party witnesses against Mr. Royer have recanted their testimony and revealed that that Mr. Royer’s wrongful conviction was not an accident, but rather, another example of systemic corruption at the hands of Elkhart police officers.

Mr. Royer’s petition is a product of a collaborative effort between innocence clinics at three different law schools, including: the Notre Dame Exoneration Project; Indiana University McKinney Law Clinic, and the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School.

“As discussed in our Petition, Andrew Royer is an innocent man who has spent the last 15 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit,” said Elliot Slosar, an Attorney for The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School. “An epidemic exists in Elkhart, Indiana, where individuals are wrongfully convicted as a result of police corruption and uninspiring advocacy by defense counsel.  Mr. Royer’s wrongful conviction is another product of the systemic failure in Elkhart.  The Petition filed today on Mr. Royer’s behalf could not have been completed without the incredible efforts by law students at the Notre Dame Exoneration Project, who have labored tirelessly on Mr. Royer’s behalf over the last year.  Because of their efforts, Mr. Royer has a real opportunity to come home.”

A copy of the petition is available here.