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Judge receives final arguments in 'Prom Night Murders' case, will soon decide on new trial

 Jeff Pelley
Photo provided
Jeff Pelley

The fate of a man serving a 160-year prison sentence forkilling his father, step-mother and two step-sisters in 1989 could soon be decided. 

Jeff Pelley has maintained for years that he didn’t kill four members of his family in Lakeville on the night of his senior prom in 1989. Now, he’s on the precipice of potentially getting a new trial to try and prove his innocence.

Pelley and St. Joseph County prosecutors both honed their final arguments in briefs filed last week and the decision on a new trial now rests with St. Joseph County judge Stephanie Steele.

Pelley’s argument centers on a key point of evidence - a pair of blue jeans - and whether or not they were washed in a washing machine at the Pelley household after the murders.

Pelley and his lawyers say police and prosecutors misled jurors in his 2006 trial that the jeans had been washed, when they say there’s no evidence showing they were. Pelley also says his lawyers at his original trial were ineffective.

Prosecutors have maintained that Jeff Pelley’s father grounding him before the dance was the main motive for the murders. At Pelley’s original trial in 2006, they presented a case where the 17-year-old Jeff Pelley took the family shotgun and shot all four family members then cleaned up the shell casings and took a shower all in the span of less than 25 minutes.

Steele is expected to rule within the coming weeks on the case.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.