Hammond murder case retrial has same outcome as before: Guilty
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org May 30, 2012 3:50PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:12AM
After several false starts, two Hammond men have again been found guilty of killing a local businessman and robbing his gun store, 12 years after the fact.
A federal jury convicted Styles Taylor, 31, and Keon Thomas, 37, on Tuesday of interfering with commerce by violence and killing Frank Freund Sr., using a machine gun in a death and unlawful transport of guns. Thomas was convicted of an additional count of possessing a gun as a felon.
This was the second trial for the two, who were originally found guilty in 2004 of killing Freund in 2000. Both men were sentenced to life in prison, but the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals eventually overturned the conviction because it said federal prosecutors in the case had kept a potential juror from serving only because the person was black.
The second trial was scheduled to start May 7, but U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano ordered a mistrial after the jury was picked because he decided that a juror should have been removed because her child had recently been prosecuted by federal attorneys in Hammond. The trial was delayed again when Lozano was taken off the case, and it was transferred to U.S. District Judge James Moody. It finally started on May 16.
Federal prosecutors in the case have argued that Thomas and Taylor planned to rob Freund’s Hammond store, Firearms Unlimited, so they could have guns to rob other drug dealers. The plan was to elevate the two defendants above being small-time drug dealers, prosecutors argued. They also planned on selling some of the drugs to buy a kilogram of cocaine, according to prosecutors.
Thomas and Taylor will remain in custody pending their sentencing, which had not been scheduled as of Wednesday afternoon, according to court records.