Mistrial declared in East Chicago double homicide trial
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent May 6, 2013 11:58AM
Updated: May 6, 2013 9:22PM
Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell declared a mistrial Monday over a juror issue in a case involving a man charged in a 2010 double homicide in East Chicago.
In addition to declaring the mistrial, the judge ordered Terrance Kevin Ronald Strong Jr., released to electronic monitoring.
His new trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 4.
After about eight hours of deliberations, Boswell sent jurors home Friday night after they returned verdicts on three of the five charges. The judge sealed the verdicts, and neither defense attorney Scott King nor deputy prosecutors Judy Massa or Reginald Marcus were informed what the verdicts were or on which counts they were returned.
The charges under consideration were murder, murder in perpetration of robbery, attempted robbery, murder and criminal gang activity. Jurors asked questions about accomplice liability issues.
Boswell told jurors to return on Monday to continue deliberations.
During the weekend, however, one of the jurors went to work and noticed a man he recognized from court who was working about 200 feet from him. The juror said he asked his union representative the man’s name and learned he is the son of one of the victims, Jose Melendez.
In court, King sought to have his client released on his own recognizance because of the 180-day limit in which prosecutors have to try a case. Strong was arrested in Harvey, Ill., six months after he was charged and has been held in Lake County Jail without bond. Any delays in the case caused by the defense do not count toward the 180-day limit.
Strong, 23, of East Chicago, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which allege he killed Melendez, 52, and Cordell Allen, 22, about 40 minutes apart on July 14, 2010, in East Chicago. Strong’s co-defendant, Jeremy Brazill, 22, of Dolton, Ill., pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery and was the prosecution’s key witness in the case, which prompted increased courthouse security with sworn police officers posted in the courtroom.