Indiana woman’s conviction upheld in death of child’s father


Esther Stephen

PORTLAND, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of a woman who arranged the killing of her young daughter’s father amid a custody battle over the child.

A Jay County judge sentenced 31-year-old Esther Jane Stephen in June to 55 years in prison after a jury convicted her in Shea Michael Briar’s January 2020 slaying. She argued in her appeal that the evidence did not justify her conviction and she deserved a shorter sentence.

But The Star Press reports the appeals court disagreed in a 3-0 ruling issued Friday which said that Stephen had “organized Briar’s killing with the depravity of a hardened criminal.”

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