Woman convicted of murder now free due to insufficient evidence

The Elkhart woman convicted of murdering 94-year-old Helen Sailor in 2002 is now free after key evidence in her trial was found to be inaccurate.

In light of that discovery, the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office requested to have the murder conviction thrown out. The request was approved and allowed the prosecutor to review case files and determine how to handle the murder charges. Prosecuting attorney Curtis Hill, Jr. announced Friday there is insufficient evidence to proceed with a trial.

The evidence in question is the finger print examination that placed Lana Canen inside Sailor's Waterfall High Rise Apartment the day of the murder.

The Elkhart County detective who performed that examination has admitted that his results were wrong.

Hill said he determined that the finger print was a central part of the case against Canen and that without it, he could not prove her involvement.

Canen was released from prison Friday, according to Hill. She had originally been sentenced to 55 years.

Originally, Canen was thought to have conspired with Andrew Royer to rob Sailor on Thanksgiving Day 2002. Royer killed Sailor during that incident and remains in prison. But, Hill said that circumstantial evidence is not enough to keep Canen behind bars.

"We don't proceed to prosecute on theory," he said. "We don't proceed to prosecution on what we think, and what could be. We proceed on evidence that we have. All the thinking we have got something in the world is not going to take the place of good solid evidence for us to go forward. That is the duty of my office."

Hill said that Canen was not aware that his decision would be coming Friday, so her release likely came a surprise.

"This case is definitely unusual and we do not take this action in many situations," Hill said. "We hope to not have to take this type of action."

The only way that she could face charges in the future is if new information becomes available to support the case against her.


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