Opening arguments in double-homicide trial of EC man
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent April 30, 2013 3:40PM
Updated: June 2, 2013 6:23AM
Testimony began Tuesday in Lake Superior Court in the murder trial of an East Chicago man charged with killing two people in 2010.
Terrance Kevin Ronald Strong Jr., 23, is on trial on two counts of murder, murder in perpetration of robbery, attempted robbery, robbery and criminal gang activity.
During opening statements, deputy prosecutor Judy Massa had just begun laying out the state’s case by saying it involved violence, gangs and drugs when defense attorney Scott King objected. Judge Diane Ross Boswell then excused the jury so the attorneys could argue again about what details could be presented to jurors.
Massa told jurors said she anticipated that evidence would show that Strong, a self-admitted gang member, and Jeremy Brazill, 22, killed Jose Melendez, early on July 14, 2010. The 52-year-old father went looking for cocaine near an East Chicago liquor store and encountered the defendants, who had decided to steal his van. About 40 minutes later, the second victim, Cordell Allen, 22, a fellow gang member, was killed because Strong suspected him of snitching when Strong’s brother’s home in East Chicago was raided by police, Massa told the jury.
In his opening statement, King said the case should more aptly be captioned Jeremy Brazill vs. Kevin Strong, not the State of Indiana vs. Kevin Strong, because of Brazill’s role as a key prosecution witness.
Brazill pleaded guilty about two years ago to charges of voluntary manslaughter, punishable by 20 to 50 years, and attempted robbery, punishable by two to eight years, and agreed to testify against Strong.
His voice rising, King told jurors that Brazill repeatedly lied to police and urged them to ask why. “Jeremy Brazill couldn’t tell the same story twice if he was reading a script,” King said, and that Brazill has “a strong incentive to tell prosecutors what they want to hear.”
King noted that Brazill’s gun was used to kill both men.