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Jonathan Miano, The Times

CROWN POINT — A 21-year-old man charged in the murder four years ago of Marchello Valliant was arrested Monday morning on a federal warrant at Lake Criminal Court.

Geremiah R. Erwin was arrested by federal law enforcement officers on allegations he possessed a 9 mm pistol with an obliterated serial number, according to an federal indictment filed Wednesday. 

The indictment states he possessed the firearm sometime between March 27 and Sept. 29.

Erwin was taken into custody by the officers after a status hearing in Judge Clarence Murray's courtroom, where he is charged with murder and murder in perpetration of a robbery on allegations he fatally shot Valliant Sept. 24, 2013, in the 7500 block of Chestnut Avenue in Hammond.

A witness told police he and Erwin, then 17, met with Valliant to purchase marijuana, but Erwin pulled out a firearm during the drug deal and gunned down the 30-year-old Hammond man.

Erwin was initially jailed without bond on the charges, but a magistrate judge ordered his release on a $3,000 cash bond after a bail hearing in September 2015.

Valliant's family expressed relief Monday that Erwin was again behind bars, but said they were frustrated with delays in the murder case.

A trial date for Erwin has been scheduled and then canceled five times since he was charged, according to court records. He was scheduled to appear at trial Monday, but that trial date was also continued.

Lakishia Valliant, the victim's sister, said she and other family members have attended 15 to 20 courts hearings for Erwin, and nothing has gotten done.

“If it weren't for the Feds, he'd still be walking the streets,” the sister said.

Calvin Young, Valliant's father, said he felt a burden had been lifted after he received news of Erwin's arrest, “but it won't have the full effect until he gets prison time for what he did to my child.”

Scott King, a defense attorney for Erwin, said Erwin's trial has been reset due to scheduling conflicts and ongoing plea negotiations.

He said he was aware of Erwin's arrest, and he would discuss with his client's family whether they want him to represent Erwin on the federal charge.

Erwin is next scheduled to appear in Lake Criminal Court Nov. 7.


Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.