Court ordered to consider claims in 1996 Decatur murder

By David Mercer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Three members of a Decatur family convicted of killing a 23-year-old woman and dumping her dismembered body in a lake over a custody dispute will get a new day in court.

The Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield on Wednesday ordered a Macon County circuit court to consider claims by Michael Slover Jr. and his parents that prosecutors used false testimony to convict them in 2002 of killing his ex-wife, Karyn Hearn Slover.

Slover and his parents, Michael Slover Sr. and Jeannette Slover, are serving 60-year sentences in the 1996 killing but insist they are innocent.

Fishermen found parts of Karyn Slover’s dismembered body in Lake Shelbyville a few days after she was reported missing. The 23-year-old had been shot in the head seven times. Prosecutors say the family killed her to prevent her from taking a modeling job and moving out of state with the couple’s young son.

The incarcerated Slovers claim a witness offered false testimony that discredited a defense witness at their trial.

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According to court documents, David Swann, Karyn Slover’s boyfriend, testified that a car she drove the day she died did not have tinted windows.

That contradicted testimony by a school bus driver who said she saw Slover driving a car with tinted windows late on the day she disappeared, about 20 miles away from Mt. Zion. That’s where her mother-in-law lived and where prosecutors say she was killed, according Bill Clutter, director of investigations with the Springfield-based Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.

The group has investigated the case and says it has found evidence that the car, which Swann owned, had factory-tinted windows.

“That’s the kind of fact that, had it been presented at the time of trial, it would have bolstered the testimony of the defense witness,” said Clutter. He credited a student who worked with the Innocence Project, Mark Camper, with turning up the window evidence through the vehicle’s identification number.

Jay Scott, first assistant state’s attorney in Macon County, called the appellate court’s decision a procedural issue but disputed the Slovers’ claim that Swann’s testimony was inaccurate.

“I disagree with that,” he said. “I don’t think it was false testimony.”