CROWN POINT | After about two hours of deliberation Friday, a jury found a Chicago man guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of a driver in a road-rage dispute last summer in Hammond.
Edgar Singleton, 61, will be sentenced by Judge Salvador Vasquez on March 14. According to Indiana state law, a murder conviction carries a minimum 45-year sentence. The jury also was given the choice of finding Singleton guilty of felony Class A voluntary manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years.
The incident that led to the murder of Montrell Moss began when Singleton cut off Moss’ Buick LeSabre twice on northbound Indianapolis Boulevard.
The then-Cook County Sheriff’s Department corrections officer admitted firing his Glock 9 mm service weapon at Moss, 23, of East Chicago, on Aug. 8 near Horseshoe Casino. That occurred after the younger man called Singleton a profanity and threw a Burger King cup of cola at Singleton’s gold minivan.
However, Singleton said when he took the stand to testify Friday morning that he shot the younger man in self-defense because he saw Moss reach for and drop a handgun.
Singleton seemed to contradict himself a number of times during his testimony. He changed his recollections about the gun he said he saw Moss handle and whether he was wearing his uniform or a windbreaker over the uniform.
He testified that he went home the morning of Aug. 8 after his night shift at the Cook County Correctional Facility at 26th and California in Chicago. Singleton said he took off his holster and two magazines of ammunition and fell asleep in his uniform watching TV.
When he woke up about 1 p.m. on that Tuesday, Singleton said he decided not to shower or change clothes because he wanted to run errands. He said he put back on his holster with the two ammunition magazines and left in his minivan.
In describing how Moss was reaching for a gun, Singleton said he fired as the younger man’s back was turned toward him as Moss returned to an upright position.
However, Dr. John Cavanaugh, of the Lake County coroner’s office, testified Moss was shot in the front just under the left collarbone and that the bullet ricocheted through the upper portion of his body.
Defense attorney Philip King argued in his closing arguments that Singleton was protected by the Indiana “stand your ground” law as part of the self-defense strategy. King said Singleton repeatedly asked police officers if they found a gun.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Woods stressed that no gun was found and that Singleton’s testimony contradicted that of both other witnesses and forensic evidence.
Eight members of Moss’ family sat in the courtroom during trial Friday and listened to the jury’s verdict.
Adrienne Moss, of East Chicago, Montrell Moss' mother, sat with tears streaming down her face after the verdict was read and the jury polled.
“Justice was served for my boy,” she said.
Moss’ grandmother Betty Knox, of Richton Park, agreed.
“I feel that justice was done. He murdered my grandson,” Knox said.