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3rd man takes plea deal in Portage High School student's 2019 slaying

3rd man takes plea deal in Portage High School student's 2019 slaying

CROWN POINT — An Illinois man could face up to 26 years in prison for fatally shooting an 18-year-old girl during an attempted robbery of her boyfriend in 2019 in Griffith, court records show.

Elrice L. Williams, 27, of Park Forest, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a level 2 felony, and attempted armed robbery, a level 3 felony.

Giovante M. Galloway, 23, of Gary, and his uncle Juarez E. Rogers, 51, of Park Forest, already have accepted plea agreements in the case. They could face sentences of three to 16 years, records show.

Co-defendant Joe C. Pittman Jr., 28, of Chicago, recently was granted permission to represent himself. He's pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial starting Sept. 27.

A fifth suspect, Joshua Wright, was killed in a homicide Feb. 5, 2019, in Markham, police said. 

Go on patrol with Aaron Crawford, a Cpl. with the Lowell Police Department, as he speaks about joining the force, DUI enforcement grants, and police Jiu-jitsu training.

Williams admitted in his plea agreement he, Galloway, Rogers, Pittman and Wright planned to rob Alayna Ortiz's boyfriend, William Michael Hawkins, the night of Ortiz's homicide.

The defendants followed a red SUV occupied by Ortiz, Hawkins and another couple from a home in Gary to the Park West Apartments parking lot, court records state.

When the red SUV stopped, Williams and Pittman approached the vehicle with guns and demanded to get inside, Williams' plea agreement states. Williams fired a single shot, which struck Ortiz.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Natalie Bokota scheduled Williams' sentencing hearing for July 9.


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