The Seattle Times
Nation & World

Low-graphic news index | Mobile site


Sunday, November 4, 2012 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.

Woman inmate freed over Indiana detective's error

By The Associated Press

ELKHART, Ind. — A northern Indiana woman sentenced to 55 years in prison for helping kill a 94-year-old woman is free after crucial fingerprint evidence used in her trial was found to be inaccurate.

Lana Canen, 53, was released Friday from the Elkhart County Jail, where she had been transferred from a southern Indiana prison.

WSBT-TV and WNDU-TV reported that a county judge authorized Canen's release after prosecutors dismissed her 2005 murder conviction in Helen Sailor's 2002 slaying. A police detective who had identified a fingerprint found at Sailor's apartment as Canen's admitted his results were wrong.

"I feel like the system failed me," Canen told WSBT-TV after her release. She had been in prison for eight years.

Canen and co-defendant Andrew Royer were each sentenced to 55 years in prison for Sailor's death on Thanksgiving 2002. Prosecutors had said Canen conspired with Royer to rob Sailor. Royer, who strangled Sailor, is still serving his sentence.

During Canen's appeal this year, a fingerprint expert from Arizona discovered that Elkhart County sheriff's Detective Dennis Chapman had wrongly identified a fingerprint on a pill container in Sailor's Elkhart apartment.

Prosecutor Curtis Hill said the fingerprint was central to the case against Canen and that without it, he could not prove she was involved.

Chapman was disciplined but still works at the Sheriff's Department.

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company


Low-graphic news index
E-mail us
Search archive
RSS feeds
Graphic-enabled home page
Mobile site


Copyright © 2010 The Seattle Times Company