INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - I-Team 8 talked to one of Indiana's most notorious inmates who plans to ask for a new murder trial.
It was 13 years ago Sarah Pender first made headlines when her two roommates were killed in Indianapolis. Her boyfriend pleaded guilty to the murders and Pender was also convicted. She then made national headlines when she topped America's Most Wanted list after escaping from an Indiana prison.
I-Team 8 has obtained exclusive details of new evidence that may lead to a new trial.
Pender has been serving a 110-year sentence for the murder of her two roommates on Oct. 26, 2000. Pender's attorney, Cara Wieneke, plans to file a motion early next week requesting a new trial. Two key pieces of evidence: a snitch list found in police files years afterwards and another snitch list found just recently. Both were written by inmate Floyd Pennington who turned against Pender in what appeared to be a ploy to get a lighter sentence.
Pennington wrote he was willing to turn on what he called "major dealers." He wrote "I will help to make buys, wear wires, talk on phone taps or whatever I have to do."
The man who prosecuted Pender says it's key evidence he was never given at trial. Larry Sells told I-Team 8's Karen Hensel in July "I realized this guy lied. He absolutely lied. I thought then I've got to do something about this. It's not fair. Sarah did not receive a fair trial."
Also in question is a letter allegedly written by Pender confessing to the murders to her ex-boyfriend and triggerman Richard Hull. When showed a copy of the letter in a prison interview, Pender denied writing it and said when she first saw it in court she was shocked.
One handwriting expert testified she wrote it. Another disagreed. Pender's prints were not on the letter - only Hull's and another man's fingerprints were found on the letter. Hull later admitted he got a cell mate to write it to "get a good plea."
The appeal will include new testimony from a forensic linguist who compared the confession letter writing with other samples.
Pender asked for a modification of her sentence over the summer. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry denied the request saying there was no evidence Pender had "turned her life around" and on the contrary had escaped.
He said modification was the "wrong way to go," which is why her attorney plans to ask for a new trial.
They plan to file for the new trial early next week. The Court of Appeals meets weekly to make rulings so it may be one to three weeks until a decision has been made.
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