Dead witness may be used in Portage homicide trial

2013-11-04T14:30:00Z 2013-11-05T08:23:08Z Dead witness may be used in Portage homicide trialBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
November 04, 2013 2:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Prosecutors may introduce a statement from a key witness in an upcoming Portage murder trial even though the witness herself was later killed in a shooting.

The rare legal request is based on the belief the man accused of the Portage slaying, Dontaye Singletary, 21, of Gary, also had a hand in the killing of the witness.

By doing so, Singletary forfeited his right to cross examine the woman, attorney Bryan Truitt said.

Truitt represents Singletary's co-defendant Sheaurice Major. Truitt said if the prosecution's request is granted, he will seek to have Major tried separately from Singletary so she is not negatively impacted by the statement from the witness.

A hearing on the legal request was set for Jan. 24 before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.

Police allege Major, 43, of Portage, hired Singletary to kill Carl Griffith Sr., 72, outside his Portage home.

Griffith was shot three times about 8 p.m. Nov. 1, 2012 , shortly after returning from work to his home in the 2700 block of Locust Street, police said. Police have not commented on the motive for the crime.

Witness Antoinetta Johnson, 34, of Hammond, was shot to death in her beauty salon Dec. 13 at 1008 W. Fifth Ave., Gary.

Singletary's defense attorney, Peter Boyles, told the court Monday the move by prosecutors is significant to his client because Johnson's statement is the only piece of evidence suggesting Singletary is guilty.

Prosecutors are stripping Singletary of his right to cross examination a witness, Boyles said.

Singletary and Major each are charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 45 to 65 years behind bars, and the conspiracy count has a maximum prison sentence of 20 to 50 years.

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