VALPARAISO — A May 25 hearing has been scheduled on a request by the defense to dismiss the two most severe criminal charges against Roxann Kerner, who is accused of attempting to help her son cover up a double murder he was convicted of in October.
Kerner, 47, of Chesterton, who appeared in court Friday morning, is arguing felony counts of obstruction of justice and perjury should be dismissed because they do not properly apply to claims that she attempted to throw investigators off her son's case with a false email tip and by making false statements under oath.
The laws surrounding assisting a criminal provide protections for parents, defense attorney Russell Brown said in his motion.
"The state's decision to charge Ms. Kerner with Obstruction of Justice and False Informing, discriminated against her by circumventing the legislature's clear intent that parents be protected from this conduct," he wrote.
Prosecutors disagree, saying in part that lawmakers did not have the same intent as it pertains to the charges as filed.
A third charge of false informing should have been filed as a lower level misdemeanor, the defense argues.
Prosecutors seem to agree on the proposed amendment.
The May 25 hearing is scheduled before Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Fish.
Kerner is accused of sending police what she intended to be an anonymous email tip on May 2, 2019, pointing the finger at a man other than her son for the Feb. 25, 2019, shooting deaths of 18-year-old Thomas Grill, of Cedar Lake, and 19-year-old Molley Lanham, of St. John, in the attached garage at her parents' Hebron-area home, according to court documents.
Police said they were able to trace the email tip back to Roxann Kerner, despite her using a Virtual Private Network in an attempt to hide her IP address. Police said they linked four other anonymous email tips to Roxann Kerner and received none further after questioning her attorney about the messages.
Roxann Kerner, who testified in her son's murder trial after prosecutors and the judge agreed to grant her immunity if she cooperated, told jurors she was not directly involved with the details of a trailer rental, charges state.
Yet a surveillance video shows her and son Connor Kerner discussing the rental at the business and listening to instructions on how to use the winch to load a vehicle on the trailer, police said.
Connor Kerner, 20, was sentenced in December to 179 years behind bars in the same courtroom where his mother's case is pending.