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Client Acquitted of 2 Counts of Murder

Jury Finds Client Not Guilty of Murder

After deliberating nearly 12 hours over two days, a Lake Superior Court jury on Tuesday acquitted an East Chicago man of murder, murder in perpetration of a robbery and attempted robbery.

Terrance Kevin Ronald Strong Jr., 25, was acquitted in the shooting death and attempted robbery of Jose Melendez, 52, of East Chicago, who was found mortally wounded in his van early on July 14, 2010, near 150th Street and Tod Avenue in East Chicago. The van had struck two other vehicles and was burning when police pulled Melendez him from the wreckage.

Jurors were deadlocked on a murder charge filed in the shooting death of Cordell Allen, 22, of East Chicago, who was found in an alley in the 4800 block of Northcote Avenue that same morning. Allen was shot three times, including once in the back of the head.

During closing arguments on Monday, defense attorney Scott King said the testimony of Jeremy Brazill, 25, of Dolton, Ill., was not credible.

Brazill testified that Strong fatally shot Melendez, who was looking to buy crack cocaine, and that Strong shot Allen a short time later. Evidence presented by deputy prosecutors Judy Massa and Reginald Marcus showed that Strong suspected Allen of being a snitch who provided information to police that prompted a raid at Strong’s brother’s residence shortly before the homicides.

Jurors deliberated until about 8 p.m. Monday and resumed deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. At 2 p.m., Judge Diane Ross Boswell called the jury into court to inquire about the status of deliberations. The foreman said they wanted a transcript of some testimony, which Boswell said was not available. Deliberations resumed and jurors signaled they had verdicts on three of the four charges.

Strong’s first trial ended in mistrial in 2013.

It was unclear Tuesday whether prosecutors would seek a new trial for Strong on the murder charge filed in Allen’s death.

Brazill, 24, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to voluntary manslaughter, punishable by 20 to 50 years, and battery, punishable by two to eight years. His sentencing hearing is May 19 before Boswell.

An Oct. 5 jury trial has been scheduled for Strong on a charge of murder in the shooting death of Allen, as well as charges of criminal gang activity, unlawful possession of a handgun by a serious, violent felon and criminal gang enhancement.

By: Ruth Ann Krause

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