Mental health crucial in murder case

Allen Berryman
Allen Berryman

Jeffersonville, IN - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – The family calls it a slap on the wrist - a man accused of murdering their husband and father could walk away a free man due to an insanity plea. Now comes a new chapter in the case that will determine if Allen Berryman will continue to spend time in a mental institution, or if he'll be set free.

Berryman was escorted into the courtroom in a yellow polo, his feet chained together.  It was the only time anyone could see Berryman as he entered a courtroom mainly open to his attorneys, a prosecutor, and mental health representatives.  That's because hearings dealing with mental issues are limited.

"This case has developed law in Indiana," said attorney Larry Wilder.

In November 2001, Berryman shot and killed Keith Krieger outside of the Green Tree Mall in Clarksville. He was found to be not responsible for the crime by reason of insanity. Since then, Berryman has been inside a southern Indiana mental institution. But for how much longer is in question as Berryman's attorneys are trying to convince a judge that he is cured of his schizophrenia.

"If its deemed that you have regained your mental facultiues, then there's a whole different set of circumstances that kicks in," Wilder said.

Terri Krieger, the victim's widow, hopes that won't be the case. She feels that if Berryman is released, she could be in harms way, not to mention the emotional toll its taken on her and her family.

"She feels like it's been an 8 1/2 year long travel for her, her family. When Keith Krieger was alive, Terri Krieger was the step-mother of his children that lived with them and 8 1 /2 years later, all those dynamics have changed because their father is gone and she's no longer the step mother," Wilder said.

An attorney for the Krieger family tells us no decision was made today. The judge continued the hearing for another day. No date has been set yet.

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