Inmates claim accused murderer confessed to them

2013-08-27T16:30:00Z 2014-10-22T17:20:06Z Inmates claim accused murderer confessed to themBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
August 27, 2013 4:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | A Hammond man accused of a double murder just outside of Valparaiso is seeking a delay in his Sept. 9 trial after learning four fellow jail inmates are claiming he confessed to them.

Among the inmates making the claim against Julius Garza is Charles Wade III, who testified in February against convicted murderer Dustin McCowan and received a break in his prison sentence as a result of his cooperation.

"Julius J. Garza, vehemently denies speaking to any of the four individuals who are claiming (he) gave information to them regarding the murders," defense attorney Larry Rogers wrote in the motion to continue the trial.

A hearing on the motion is expected to take place Wednesday morning before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper.

Rogers said he needs time to investigate the claims against his client and there is less than two weeks before the trial, which is not enough time to accomplish the job.

The request would amount to the third delay in the trial. Rogers sought the first delay from Sept. 17, 2012, to March 11 to allow time to review information provided by prosecutors. Prosecutors then sought the delay to Sept. 9 to allow more time to review information involving witnesses.

Garza, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, is accused of killing Jeffery Trinka, 40, of Valparaiso, and Jennifer Guinn, 31, of Hammond, at a home in the 1500 block of Lincolnway in Center Township just outside of the Valparaiso city limits.

Porter County E-911 dispatchers received a call about 2:11 a.m. April 7, 2012 from Guinn, who told them her friend had been shot, according to court documents. Dispatchers then reportedly heard gunshots and the woman went silent.

Dispatchers traced the woman's cellphone to the home, where police confronted Garza.

While Wade was not promised anything for agreeing to testify against McCowan, Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford said during sentencing in April he considered Wade's cooperation when deciding to suspend seven of the 15 years of prison time Wade was given for a 2010 carjacking.

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