He was sentenced to die for a notorious abduction and murder 16 years ago, but now Michael Overstreet will undergo a new hearing to decide whether or not he’s mentally fit for the death penalty.
Overstreet was convicted of murdering Franklin College student Kelly Eckart 16 years ago.
On Thursday, Eckart’s family spoke to Fox 59 about their frustration with the recent decision by the Indiana Supreme Court, which could allow Overstreet to avoid the death penalty.
In the 16 years since Kelly Eckart’s brutal abduction, rape and murder in Johnson County, her family has accomplished many things in her honor including a scholarship and a state law for victims’ rights bearing her name.
“A lot of good has happened,” said Kelly’s mother Connie Sutton. “It makes me feel good, makes me smile, makes me happy to be her mom.”
But Sutton says her happiness fades when she hears about her daughter’s killer, which is why this week has been hard.
“I’m always concerned when we have to go to court,” Sutton said. “But I still believe that the law is on our side and so is God.”
Connie says she doesn’t believe the courts will allow Overstreet to avoid the death penalty, especially considering the way he killed her daughter.
“He knew what he was doing when he did it or he wouldn’t have tried to hide it, move her and lie about it,” Sutton said.
Overstreet’s attorney and a psychiatrist now say that he is unable to understand why the state plans to execute him. Connie says she believes his recent behavior is from over-medication.
“He wasn’t like that during trial, but then the last time I saw him it seemed like he was overmedicated and he was just kind of not all there,” Sutton said.
“Why do we have to drag this on and on and on?” asked Chris Eckart, Kelly Eckart’s brother.
Chris Eckart was just 15 when his sister was murdered, and he’s now lived even longer waiting for her killer to die.
“If you commit a crime as heinous as he did, I don’t think there is any other punishment that should be done,” Eckart said.
“You know, I don’t really want to sit and watch somebody die but, for what he did, he deserves to die,” Sutton said.
Even if Overstreet avoids the death penalty and he goes to prison for life, Connie says she still believes someone will be on their side.
“This story has been so big for so long that there’s people in (prison) that are going to know what he did and they’ll take care of things,” Sutton said.
The Supreme Court ordered that a hearing and a decision on Overstreet’s sentence must be made by early March.