ELKHART — Dennis Leer, convicted of murder in 2004 for the death of Marie Kline, won a battle last week in getting his sentence modified.
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted Leer’s petition to change his consecutive sentences of murder and attempted murder to run concurrently instead, according to its written decision, which was published Friday.
His attempted murder sentence was for 40 years, while his murder sentence was for 60. Leer was also sentenced to six years in prison for escape. That sentence will still run consecutively to those of his other two charges.
Leer was sentenced on his charge of attempted in murder in 1988.
His murder charge came 14 years after Kline was killed. According to court documents, Kline stepped out of her house in the early morning of Dec. 30, 1987, after answering the door, and did not come back.
Her father, Wayne Kline, said he contacted police after he realized Marie Kline had left her purse and her car at home and was nowhere to be found.
Police found Marie Kline’s body on Jan. 1, 1988. Though police had numerous suspects at the time, no arrests were made.
In 2002, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department handed the case to the Indiana State Police Cold Case Squad, who were able to find enough evidence to charge Leer with murder.
At the time Leer was in prison for the charge of attempted murder.
Following jury trial, Leer was convicted of murder on Oct. 8, 2004.
Almost three years later, Leer filed a post-conviction relief petition, but it was denied March 19, 2012. In his appeal to the denial, Leer challenged the trial court’s order to impose his 60-year sentence to run consecutively with his 40-year sentence. His petition was granted.
Wayne Kline said he was not aware of the decision, but was upset to know Leer’s years in prison had been reduced.
“It’s not good,” he said. “Who would want a murderer out on the streets again?”
Wayne Kline said although his family is doing well, the memory of his daughter still brings them pain, even after 24 years.
“You don’t really get over it, It’s like it’s is always there, you know? You don’t forget it,” he said.