posttrib
LUMINOUS 
Weather Updates

Judge seals jury’s verdicts in EC double-homicide

Updated: June 5, 2013 6:13AM



Lake Superior Court jurors returned three verdicts Friday night in a 2010 double-homicide case in East Chicago and will resume deliberations Monday.

In an unusual move, Judge Diane Ross Boswell sealed the verdicts for Terrance Kevin Ronald Strong Jr., 23, who has been on trial since Monday on charges of murder, felony murder, carjacking, attempted robbery and criminal gang activity from shootings that occurred 40 minutes apart in East Chicago. Deliberations lasted about eight hours. Neither side was told what the verdicts were or for which counts, defense attorney Scott King said.

In his closing argument, deputy prosecutor Reginald Marcus told jurors that evidence showed that Strong fatally shot Jose Melendez, 52, a father fighting cancer who wanted to buy cocaine early on July 14, 2010. He encountered Strong and co-defendant Jeremy Brazill, 22, outside EC Liquors in East Chicago. The two men got into Melendez’s van, where they struggled and Melendez was shot.

Brazill initially told police he wanted to take the van to joyride, then said he had planned to use it to commit robberies in Illinois.

Marcus acknowledged that Brazill initially lied to police, but that his testimony during the trial made him a marked man. “When he came in here and testified, he wrote SOS (shoot on sight) on his own chest,” Marcus said.

After Melendez was shot, his van crashed into a parked car and caught fire.

Brazill testified that Strong wanted him to “take care of” Cordell Allen, who was suspected of being a snitch on Strong’s brother after police raided his home.

Brazill and Strong located Allen at a friend’s house in the 4800 block of Northcote Avenue in East Chicago, the three men walked into the alley behind the house, where Brazill shot Allen, 22, three times. They fled, then returned to take a cell phone from Allen’s body because of Strong’s recent call to him.

Six months after charges were filed, members of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Strong in Harvey, Ill.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Scott King reminded jurors that Strong and Allen were members of the same gang and Brazill belonged to a different gang. Trial testimony showed Brazill “tried to fit in” with everyone. King emphasized that Brazill’s gun that was used to shoot both men, based on firearms evidence.

He leveled his harshest criticism on the state’s key witness, Strong’s co-defendant who pleaded to lesser charges in exchange for a reduced sentence.

“They have let a man get away with murders — not murder — murders,” King said. “They screwed up,” he said, pointing to the prosecution table. “They listened to this man (Brazill) and they never, ever challenged him or anything he’s telling them.”

Marcus countered that Brazill didn’t have to speak with police investigators. “He didn’t have to throw himself under that bus,” Marcus said.

Brazill pleaded guilty in May 2011 to voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery. He faces 20 to 50 years on the voluntary manslaughter charge and two to eight years for attempted robbery.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.