Following a 2004 trial that relied heavily on incriminating testimony from jailhouse informants, Iris Seabolt admitted to the murder in the death of Elkhart restaurant owner A.J. Williams.

Seabolt spent 17 years in prison, but was recently released on parole and is now working to clear her name through a petition for post-conviction relief. 

In her filing, Seabolt says Elkhart police and prosecutors coerced witnesses into giving false statements against her and failed to turn over evidence favorable to her during her original trial. 

While Seabolt is waiting for her chance at a new trial, her claims that police and prosecutors abused their power are the latest examples of systemic misconduct that has plagued the Elkhart justice system for decades.

Multiple people convicted of violent felonies in the late 1990s and early 2000s have seen their convictions overturned due to findings that detectives, including Steve Rezutko, fabricated or coerced witness testimony.

Additionally, an outside study of the Elkhart Police Department, ordered after a series of reports in 2018 by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica, found that a lack of accountability tarnished the force’s reputation, with officers viewed in the community as “cowboys” who engage in “rough treatment of civilians.”

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