Chesterton Tribune



Convicted double murderer sentenced to 179 years

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By the Associated Press

and The Chesterton Tribune

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - A Northwest Indiana man convicted of fatally shooting two teenagers during a drug-related robbery was sentenced on Tuesday to 179 years in prison.

A Porter County jury found Conner Kerner, 19, of Valparaiso, guilty in October of charges including two counts of murder and murder in perpetration of a robbery.

Kerner had allegedly confessed to a then-girlfriend that he had killed 18-year-old Thomas Grill of Cedar Lake and 19-year-old Molley Lanham of St. John in February 2019 in the attached garage of his maternal grandparents’ Hebron-area home.

Prosecutors said the target in the robbery that led to the killings was $20,000 to $50,000 worth of THC cartridges.

Kerner showed no obvious reaction to the sentence but said he intends to appeal, The (Northwest Indiana) Time reported.

Patricia Grill, mother of Thomas Grill, looked down at Kerner and accused him of attempting to erase her son and Lanham. “You erased your life, Conner,” she said.

Stacy Spejewski, mother of Lanham, said she is still numb nearly two years after her daughter’s killing. “I am now the mother of a murdered child,” she said.

Kerner will be required to serve 75 percent of the term--or more than 134 years--before being eligible for parole.

After the sentencing, Porter County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Germann told the Chesterton Tribune, “There are now three families who lost a child to this incident, two of whom will not be physically present in the lives of their loved ones. From a community standpoint I hope everyone realizes how much work went into this case by so many people, particularly Armando Salinas and Chris Hammer from our office and Brian Dziedzinski and the entire Porter County Sheriff’s Department. Because of their hard work our entire community is much safer. I cannot thank them enough for the hours and hours of hard work leading up to and during the trial. In the end the sentence was totally justified by the facts and the law.”

Last week, Kerner’s mother, Rozann Kerner, 47, of Chesterton, was booked into the Porter County Jail on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, and false informing. Investigators said that Roxann Kerner sent police what she intended to be an anonymous email tip pointing the finger at another man as the gunman. Her tip said that the man in question used to live with her son and knew where Connor Kerner’s grandparents kept the spare keys to their Hebron home. The email also claimed that Grill owed that man thousands of dollars and that during a confrontation in the garage, Grill shot Lantham before the other man grabbed a second gun and shot Grill.

Investigators said that they were able to trace the email tip back to Roxann Kerner, despite her using a Virtual Private Network in an attempt to hide her IP address. According to the charges against her, investigators said they were able to do this because she used the same VPN when signing on to an inmate communication system to communicate with her son at the Porter County Jail.



Posted 12/9/20




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