Image: Andrew Conley
AP
Andrew Conley told investigators he had dreamed of killing someone since he was in eighth grade, police say.
updated 12/4/2009 4:55:55 PM ET 2009-12-04T21:55:55

An Indiana teenager accused of strangling his 10-year-old brother and dumping his body in a park has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Seventeen-year-old Andrew Conley showed no emotion during Friday's court appearance in Ohio Circuit Court in Rising Sun, the teen's hometown along the Ohio River about 90 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

His parents were at a viewing for his brother Conner Conley's body and did not attend the hearing.

Prosecutors say Conley confessed to police that he intentionally strangled his brother while they were wrestling at the family home on Sunday. They say Andrew Conley told investigators he had dreamed of killing someone since he was in eighth grade.

If convicted of murder, Conley could be sentenced to up to 65 years in prison.

The parents had pulled Andrew Conley out of Rising Sun High School on Nov. 16 — 12 days before prosecutors said he strangled his younger brother, said Stephen Patz, the superintendent of Rising Sun-Ohio County Community Schools.

Patz declined to state the reasons for the withdrawal, but said both Conley brothers were decent students.

"Andrew was a good student, he had friends, he didn't have discipline problems. And the same thing for Conner," he said. "I think that's what makes it difficult for the community, the staff, the students, everyone, to try and come to grips with the situation."

'Evil child'
According to prosecutors, Andrew Conley showed no remorse when he described to investigators how he choked his younger brother, saying he strangled the boy to satisfy a craving like a hungry person eating a hamburger.

He told police his brother's last words were "Andrew, stop," according to a probable cause affidavit. Conley said he dumped the body near a park in the Ohio River community of about 2,500 residents, 90 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard said Thursday that the nature of the crime shows that "sometimes people are just evil."

"This is an evil child," he said.

Investigators said after he killed his brother, Andrew Conley dragged his body to his car and drove to see his girlfriend, Alexis Murafski. She told investigators Conley gave her a sweetheart ring and "seemed happy, more happy than she had seen him in a while," according to the affidavit.

Touched by tragedy
Murafski's 19-year-old brother, Drew, said Friday that his sister threw the ring into a pond behind their house after she found out about the killing.

"She had been behind him, but when she found out what happened, she said she couldn't keep the ring," Murafski said.

A white cross stood Friday at the site in the park near where the body was found with the messages "In loving memory of" and "classmates of Conner 2009."

Patz said school counselors as well as several ministers are on call at the district's schools to help grieving students, teachers and staff.

Pastor Jim Jenkins of the 75-member First Baptist Church of Rising Sun is among the clergy helping counsel students and staff at the two schools, whom he said have been "greatly affected" by the killing.

"You've got a class of 20 children and all of a sudden one of them is not there and they've been murdered and their face is all over TV and the story is all over the radio. So that's had an impact, more on those in that classroom but also on others," Jenkins said.

The slaying comes weeks after Missouri investigators say a 15-year-old girl, Alyssa Bustamante, told them she strangled, stabbed and cut a 9-year-old neighbor's throat because she wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. A not guilty plea has been entered on her behalf for charges related to the slaying.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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