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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Man convicted of murder in 2005 Middlebury case files petition for post-conviction relief

Aaron McDonald, convicted of murder in connection with the 2005 death of Barbara Jo Keim, filed a petition for post-conviction relief. 

Posted on Jan. 30, 2014 at 10:45 p.m.

GOSHEN — The Elkhart Circuit Court judge will review a petition for post-conviction relief from a man who pleaded guilty in a case involving the kidnap and murder of one of his co-defendants' mother in 2005.

Aaron McDonald appeared in circuit court for a post-conviction relief hearing Thursday, Jan. 30.

McDonald was one of three people who were convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and criminal confinement for the death of Barbara Jo Keim.

According to court files, McDonald, along with his friend Spenser Krempetz and Krempetz's girlfriend Hannah Stone devised a plan to kill Keim, Stone's mother, Aug. 4, 2005.

According to the court files, Stone was upset that her mother did not approve of her relationship with Krempetz. The three went to Keim's apartment, where they tackled the woman into her apartment, taped her eyes and mouth, and tied her hands.

McDonald and Krempetz drove Keim to an automated teller machine and used her bank card to withdraw $200. Stone stayed in her mother's apartment in case someone had called police when Keim screamed, according to court files. 

The two men then drove Keim to a cornfield. Krempetz made Keim walk barefoot into the field and then he fatally shot her.

A few days later McDonald, Krempetz and Stone were arrested.

The three defendants pleaded guilty, and McDonald received a sentence of 62 years in prison.

In his petition, McDonald claimed he was a juvenile when Keim was killed, and that at the time police took him for questioning his mother was not competent to waive his right to remain silent. According to the written petition, McDonald's mother was "heavily medicated" when he was taken to the police station.

However, during the hearing judge Terry Shewmaker pointed out that McDonald pleaded guilty to the charges and was bound to the terms of the plea agreement.

McDonald's lawyer, Jay Lauer, then asked the judge to review his client's entire court record and issue a ruling.

The judge has up to 120 days to issue a ruling in McDonald's case.

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