Hammond man convicted of battery in tire worker wounding

2014-05-14T19:20:00Z 2014-06-10T20:11:08Z Hammond man convicted of battery in tire worker woundingElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 662-5331 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | A Lake County jury Wednesday found a 21-year-old man  guilty of battery by means of a deadly weapon in a shooting at an East Chicago tire shop that wounded a worker. 

Adrian Barriga, of Hammond, was found not guilty of attempted murder and aggravated battery.  

Jesus Fuentes-Lopez testified in Lake County Criminal Court that Barriga and David Luna went to the tire shop March 11, 2013, inquiring about a tire and the shop's hours. 

Lopez said the men called for him to pick up a tire from a nearby alley. He was then shot three times by one of the men. 

Surveillance footage showed two men in black sweatshirts approaching Lopez, then running away. The video was clear but did not show close-up shots of the suspects' faces.

Lopez initially told police Luna, who is Barriga's brother, was the shooter. Defense attorney Derrick Julkes argued Lopez only identified his client as the shooter when a detective said he didn't think Luna was the shooter. 

"The only reason why we have reason for (Barriga) to be involved is because Detective Washington said he was involved," Julkes said.

He grilled prosecution witnesses during cross-examination about when Barriga was named the shooter. The defense did not call any witnesses. 

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Toth said Lopez was in and out of consciousness when he named Luna. Days later, Lopez said he told police the entire narrative of the shooting.

Toth said Lopez has since been consistent about details and is certain Barriga was the shooter.

"Please don't tell me that someone who has known someone for seven years doesn't know him by face," Toth said.

An East Chicago police detective said charges against Luna in the case were dismissed. Toth said the prosecutor's office could file charges against Luna later.

Toth said during opening statements that Luna told police Barriga called Luna asking if there was surveillance video of the shooting.

Luna, citing the Fifth Amendment, did not answer questions about the call Wednesday. 

Lopez said Tuesday he still had no idea why he was shot. 

He described being bullied in high school by the Marktown Boys, a group Luna associated with. The teasing was one reason why Lopez dropped out of school.

He didn't recall having problems with Barriga. 

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