Trial in East Chicago double shooting opens

2013-04-30T17:55:00Z 2013-05-01T07:01:05Z Trial in East Chicago double shooting opensSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell and attorneys sparred Tuesday over how much of East Chicago's gang warfare will come into play during this week's murder trial of admitted gang member Kevin Strong.

Strong, 23, of East Chicago, is on trial for his alleged role in a double shooting just minutes and blocks apart in July 2010.

Strong was charged along with co-defendant Jeremy Brazill, 22, who shows addresses in Dolton and East Chicago, in the slayings of Jose Melendez and Cordell Allen, both of East Chicago, in separate incidents.

Brazill entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in May 2011, pleading guilty to reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery.

Brazill is expected to testify Strong shot Melendez when he wouldn't surrender his van to the pair less than an hour before Brazill shot Allen, allegedly for "being a snitch."

During opening arguments Tuesday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Judith Massa led the jury through events leading to the shootings.

Testimony would show Strong shot Melendez following a struggle over a gun during a carjacking. Brazill later shot Allen, an alleged gang member, in retaliation for Allen's going to police in connection to another incident.

However, defense attorney Scott King told jurors Brazill had lied again and again about events.

It was Brazill's gun used in both shootings, he said.

King said Brazill gave various versions of the shootings to police, with no immediate mention made of Allen's being shot for snitching.

Brazill's sentence won't be determined until after Strong's murder trial, King said, arguing Brazill's incentive was strong to tell jurors what prosecutors wanted to hear.

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