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Accused bank robbers face new federal charges

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HAMMOND — Two men are pleading not guilty to newly filed death penalty murder charges.

James A. King Jr., 24, of Miami, and Hailey Gist-Holden, 26, of Gary, appeared before Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich in U.S. District Court.

King is represented by defense attorneys Michael A. Campbell and Michael W. Bosch of Highland. Chesterton attorney Adam Tavitas and Merrillville attorney Russell Brown Jr. are defending Gist-Holden.

A federal grand jury named the two defendants in a new, superseding indictment late last month, alleging they killed bank security guard Richard Castellana on June 11 during a holdup of the First Midwest Bank branch at 1975 W. Ridge Road in Calumet Township.

The original indictment only named King, who was the only defendant in custody at the time. Authorities said Gist-Holden had fled the area and was still at large.

Police captured Gist-Holden on June 18 near Valdosta, Georgia.

The U.S. attorney’s office filed the July 22 superseding indictment to include both men.

The government alleges Gist-Holden planned the bank robbery to bail out his semipro football team, the Illini Panthers. He needed money to pay his players, their hotel bills as well as rent on his Gary home.

They allege Gist-Holden enlisted King, one of his football players, to assist in the robbery.

Police say the two, dressed in black and armed with a handgun and rifle, stormed the bank from a nearby wooded area and ambushed Castellana before he saw them coming.

King fled with about $9,000 but didn’t get far.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department’s police dogs and handlers tracked King within hours to an area near 43rd Avenue and Garfield Street in Gary where officers arrested him, less than a mile from the site of the robbery.

Attorneys for Gist-Holden asked the court to reconsider its previous decision to detain him, but the magistrate ordered both men held pending trial, which is not yet scheduled.

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys anticipate a trial would last at least three weeks.

The armed bank robbery and murder charges make King and Gist-Holden eligible for the death penalty.

However, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland recently imposed a moratorium on federal executions and is reviewing U.S. Justice Department’s policies on whether to seek the death penalty in the future.

Gist-Holden is also charged with possession of about 27 pounds of marijuana confiscated from a rental home he was using in the 4600 block of Buchanan Street in Gary’s Glen Park neighborhood.

Police raided the property June 16 in their search for Gist-Holden and found the marijuana being cultivated in grow rooms in the basement.


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