Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Something fishy...

Man sentenced in Ind. for killing family
By TOM COYNE, Associated Press Writer Tue Oct 17, 2:13 PM ET

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A judge Tuesday sentenced a minister's son to 160 years in prison for killing his father, stepmother and two stepsisters so he could attend his high school prom in 1989.

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Roland Chamblee Jr. sentenced Jeffrey Pelley, 34, to four consecutive 40-year sentences in the shotgun slayings of his minister-father and the others at the family's parsonage.

Investigators said Pelley was angry at his father for grounding him just before the LaVille High School prom. After the killings, they said, Pelley cleaned up and went to the dance.

Pelley continued to maintain his innocence during Tuesday's hearing.

"I loved my family dearly and I have lived my life trying to pattern my life after my father," Pelley said through heavy sobs. "I would not, I could not and I did not do this."

His attorneys said he will appeal.

Pelley wasn't charged until 2002, when the case was reinvestigated. He was living in Dade City, Fla., when he was arrested.

A St. Joseph County jury found him guilty July 21 in the shooting deaths of his father, the Rev. Robert Pelley, 38; his stepmother, Dawn Pelley, 32; and stepsisters, Janel, 8, and Jolene, 6. They were killed in the parsonage adjacent to the Olive Branch Church of the United Brethren in Lakeville, about 10 miles south of South Bend.

Pelley's sister, Jacque Delp, who was not home at the time of the shootings, testified on his behalf.

"He is one of the most kind and compassionate people I know," she said.

Pelley's attorneys had argued during his trial that there wasn't enough time for him to have killed his family, cleaned up and still made it to the LaVille High School prom. They also said no one could commit such a gruesome attack and still act "normal" during the prom events, as his friends testified during the trial.

The defense also questioned the decision by investigators not to look for fingerprints at the crime scene. Police officers testified during the trial that they didn't think they would find any usable prints and they thought it would be a waste of time because Pelley was their main suspect.

The shotgun used in the killings was never found.

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