CROWN POINT | The murder trial of a 16-year-old Crown Point teen opened Tuesday with prosecutors saying witnesses will place Martin Villalon Jr., formerly of Whiting, at the center of the shooting death of a Hammond teen, 15-year-old John Shoulders.
Shoulders's body was found about 5 p.m. Aug. 22, 2008, in the driveway of a home in the 1900 block of Warwick Avenue in Hammond's Robertsdale neighborhood. An autopsy determined the teen had been shot four times in the neck and back.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Curosh told jurors two witnesses would testify to seeing Villalon and another suspect approaching Shoulders, who appeared to flee before his body was found minutes later in the driveway.
Yet another witness would testify to Villalon bragging about the murder and showing him the weapon, Curosh said.
Defense attorney Thomas Vanes, however, told jurors to be on the lookout for witnesses who would be found to have used false names. Another key witness, Vanes said, would be found to have been in police custody and eager to make a deal. Vanes argued no bloody clothes or DNA, by the state's own admission would tie Villalon to the murder.
Early testimony by two key witnesses Tuesday led to immediate discrepancies.
Under questioning by Vanes, one key witness, who said he didn't know Villalon and failed to initially describe him as Hispanic, admitted to not being able to firmly identify Villalon from photographs provided by police.
A second witness, who said she knew Villalon prior to the shooting, identified Villalon as one of the two suspects she saw approaching Shoulders on bikes. In further testimony, however, the woman said she lost sight of Shoulders and believed he had gotten away.
Villalon and the other suspect, believed to be a 16-year-old Chicago resident named Prevaun McDaniel, were charged initially in juvenile court with little detail released to the public except the incident was believed to be gang-related.
McDaniel was waived to adult court in September and is currently set for trial Aug. 16.