CROWN POINT | A key witness for the state took the stand for several hours Friday testifying that murder defendant Robert Lewis III emerged bloody from his parents' home and later burned the bloody clothing behind the witness's garage.
Chakole Spurlock, of Gary, is testifying against Lewis with immunity about events the morning of April 2, after Lewis is alleged to have beaten and sexually assaulted Jennifer Kocsis, 37, of Griffith.
Witnesses and surveillance tapes confirm Kocsis leaving Pepe's Mexican Restaurant, 222 E. Ridge Road in Griffith, around closing time April 1.
Kocsis is reported telling witnesses she was giving Lewis a ride home. Both were regulars at the Pepe's, where Kocsis enjoyed karaoke singing, witnesses testified.
Kocsis' bludgeoned and partially clothed body was discovered the following morning by passersby behind the closed Riley Elementary School in Gary.
Spurlock, a girlfriend of Lewis, told police Lewis told her to pick him up at his parents' Gary home sometime before 3 a.m. April 2. The home is about a half-mile from the former school building.
Spurlock said Lewis came out of the house and got into her car, where she saw his hands, jacket and shoes covered in blood. What appeared to be blood was spattered on his hat and the legs of his jeans, she said.
Spurlock testified that while en route to finding a motel, Lewis tossed the bloody shoes out the car window. She said he then retrieved them the next morning and burned them, along with the hat, shoes and jacket, behind Spurlock's garage. Also burned were keys later found to be the keys to Kocsis' home.
Spurlock described Lewis as fidgety and frustrated, saying, "Man, I don't believe this. I'm going to hell."
Spurlock said Lewis had told her a friend had shot someone in the stomach at Pepe's, after which Lewis kicked the man in the face, breaking his chin, to keep him from talking to police.
Spurlock, who has been granted immunity for her testimony, admitted not initially cooperating with police.
"I was scared," she said, adding she did not want to risk jail and being away from her children for a crime she did not commit.
The trial is expected to continue several days next week with Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell presiding.