CROWN POINT | Family and friends kept vigil Monday, overflowing the courtroom of Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., as jurors were chosen for the murder trial of 23-year-old Jeffrey Nemcek, of Crown Point.
Nemcek was charged in January with the stabbing death of 26-year-old Brandon Huseman, also of Crown Point, in the early morning hours of last Thanksgiving Day.
A nearly full day of pretrial motions and jury selection climaxed about 5:15 p.m. Monday in Crown Point with opening statements expected Tuesday morning.
Nemcek's arrest came at the conclusion of a nearly two-month police investigation.
He is charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter along with a misdemeanor charge of possession of a switchblade knife.
Huseman was stabbed about 1:45 a.m., Nov. 24, while walking in downtown Crown Point with six friends and relatives. He died later that morning.
The stabbing occurred during an altercation between Nemcek and someone in the group accompanying Huseman, none of whom was armed, police said.
Witnesses reported Huseman as trying to make peace when he was felled.
"I think I just got stabbed," Huseman said as he lifted his shirt, according to witnesses.
Police found Huseman lying on the sidewalk wounded in the abdomen and surrounded by members of his group.
Police said they located Nemcek a short time later about a mile away. His hands, pants and shirt were bloodied and one eye bruised.
Nemcek's jacket was found behind a Dumpster, and a knife matching a description provided police was found at a construction site at Main Street and Robinson Court.
His defense attorney is expected to present a case of self-defense.
"This young man was defending himself, nothing more," Nemcek's attorney, Kevin Milner, said at the time of his client's arrest.