Judge: Dead woman’s video statement to cops admissible
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent April 24, 2014 9:32PM
Updated: May 26, 2014 6:45AM
VALPARAISO — Statements a woman made to police investigating a murder case can be used as testimony, even though she is dead, because the defendant likely had a hand in her death, Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford ruled.
The decision was handed down Wednesday and released Thursday in the case of Dontaye D. Singletary, 22, of Gary. Singletary is charged with murder and is accused of being hired by Sheaurice Major, 43, of Portage to kill 72-year-old Carl Griffith Sr. of Portage on Nov. 1, 2012. Major is also charged with murder.
During the investigation, Antoinetta Johnson, 34, of Gary, told police on video that she introduced Major and Singletary after Major allegedly told her she wanted Griffith killed, and she helped in the process, court records state.
Such statements to police aren’t normally be used as testimony because the witness can’t be cross-examined, but state law makes an exception if the witness is not available due to actions by the defendant.
During an April 14 meeting, former Porter County Jail cellmate John Allen Tener, 49, testified that Singletary indicated someone called “The Ghost” killed Johnson.
Bradford, in his ruling, said Tener’s testimony was “sufficient to show that the defendant encouraged wrongdoing, that is the murder of Antoinetta Johnson” to make her unavailable, and “the court finds that his testimony was more probably true than not true.”
Police found Johnson dead in her Gary salon on Dec. 13, shot with an automatic rifle.
Johnson told police she gave a ride to Singletary from the Portage murder scene, and she delivered $200 from Sheaurice Major to Singletary a half hour later.
Police say Major wanted Griffith dead because he worked for Affordable Towing of Gary, which she co-owned with her estranged husband, Ronnie Major, and which impounded cars for the Gary Police Department.
Griffith helped Ronnie Major get out of prison.
Ronnie Major, who served 10 months in prison before being released to Lake County Community Corrections in February 2013, is not charged in the homicide.