Defendant in murder case denies in recording he knew victim
BY RUTH ANN KRAUSE Post-Tribune correspondent October 8, 2013 11:40PM
Robert Lewis III, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for killing a Griffith woman. | Provided
Updated: November 10, 2013 6:37AM
Robert Lewis III, who faces life without parole in his murder trial, repeatedly denied knowing or killing a Griffith woman who had agreed to give him a ride home from a restaurant.
Lewis’ statement was played for Lake Superior Court jurors on Tuesday during his trial on charges of murder in perpetration of a robbery, murder in perpetration of criminal deviate conduct, murder, robbery, criminal deviate conduct and resisting law enforcement.
Lewis, 40, of Gary, has pleaded not guilty in the death of Jennifer Kocsis, 37, of Griffith.
In his statement to Gary police Detective Michael Barnes, Lewis said he left Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Griffith with his friend, Rodney Taylor, who was intoxicated. Lewis said Taylor hit another car, then said Taylor sideswiped a pole.
Lewis also said that his former girlfriend, Chakole Spurlock, picked him up at the restaurant and that he didn’t leave with Kocsis.
Spurlock, however, had told police she picked up Lewis at his parents’ home in the 800 block of East 44th Avenue, about a half-mile from the closed Riley School in Gary where Kocsis’ battered body on April 2, 2011, seven hours after she was seen leaving Pepe’s with Lewis.
When Barnes confronted Lewis with his inconsistencies, he said, “Oh, you know what, she did,” referring to Spurlock picking him up at his parent’s home and that Taylor had left the restaurant but returned to give him a ride there.
“I don’t even know her name,” Lewis said repeatedly of Kocsis. “I didn’t kill nobody. Nobody, bro.”
Deputy prosecutor Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst, who is presenting evidence with deputy prosecutor Reginald Marcus, has introduced surveillance footage and testimony that showed Lewis leaving with Kocsis and seated in her car as she pulled out of the parking lot.
Defense attorney T. Edward Page sought to suppress Lewis’ statement in which he talks about hiring an attorney and whether he needs to have an attorney present. Lewis signed a waiver of rights that included having an attorney present when questioned. Lewis also agreed to provide a DNA sample, which Page also sought to suppress.
Judge Diane Ross Boswell allowed for jurors to view about one hour of Lewis’ statement on a DVR.
The DNA sample also was admitted as evidence.