Jury selection begins in Griffith murder case

2013-09-30T16:02:00Z 2013-12-28T21:27:45Z Jury selection begins in Griffith murder caseSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
September 30, 2013 4:02 pm  • 

GARY | Jury selection was underway Monday in the murder trial of a Gary man accused of killing a former elementary school teacher from Griffith.

Robert Lewis III, 40, faces multiple charges in the April 2011 slaying of Jennifer Kocsis, 37, who is believed to have offered Lewis a ride when leaving a Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in Griffith.

Prosecutors have charged Lewis with murder, murder in perpetration of criminal deviate conduct, murder during the perpetration of a robbery, robbery, criminal deviate conduct and resisting law enforcement, court records show.

Witnesses told police they last saw Kocsis leaving Pepe's, 222 E. Ridge Road, in Griffith on April 1, a Friday, with Lewis.

Police have video surveillance footage of them leaving together, a probable cause affidavit states.

About two hours after leaving the restaurant, Lewis was picked up by his girlfriend near his home on 44th Avenue in Gary. The couple checked into a hotel in Hobart, the affidavit states.

A group of schoolchildren found Kocsis dead Saturday morning behind the former Riley Elementary School at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Ohio Street in Gary. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head and chest.

As police began their investigation into Kocsis' death, they were led to a suspect who was known as Dollar Rob, who later was identified as Lewis with helpĀ from the public and witnesses, police said at the time.

Lewis was arrested the following Tuesday as investigators prepared to execute a search warrant in the neighborhood near his mother's home, where he was living, about a half mile from where Kocsis' body was found.

Lewis led police on a high-speedĀ pursuit before he was arrested after being observed in the area.

Kocsis, a beloved former music and special education teacher in Whiting and Hammond, is believed to have offered Lewis a ride from the restaurant where she had been out for the evening with friends.

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