Feds want life — again — for Hammond man who murdered gun shop owner in 2000

2013-07-30T19:00:00Z 2013-07-30T23:45:04Z Feds want life — again — for Hammond man who murdered gun shop owner in 2000Times Staff nwitimes.com
July 30, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Federal prosecutors are again asking that a Hammond man be sentenced to life for robbing and killing a gun shop owner 13 years ago.

Keon Thomas was convicted in May 2012 for a second time for the 2000 armed robbery and murder of Frank Freund, the owner of a Hammond gun shop.

Thomas and fellow defendant Styles Taylor were first convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2005. But the 7th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case to district court for a retrial, questioning prosecutors' procedures in selecting a jury pool.

In documents filed this week, Thomas requested Senior Judge James T. Moody consider sentencing him to 30 years instead of life.

Thomas' lawyer, Paul Stracci, argued in documents that Thomas "never had a chance," citing a dysfunctional, tumultuous childhood marred by emotional and physical abuse, as well as both parents afflicted with substance abuse.

By age 11, Thomas drank alcohol and smoked marijuana on a daily basis and began a habit of associating himself with bad influences, court documents state.

After serving time for robbing a restaurant at age 19, Thomas was paroled back into the criminal environment and associates he wanted to avoid, according to records.

Within about eight months of his release from prison, he and Taylor had robbed Firearms Unlimited and killed its owner, Freund.

Relatives recently filed letters supporting Thomas with the court, including from his mother and son. Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 5.

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