VALPARAISO — The 48-year-old Merrillville woman accused of arranging the killing in a 2012 Portage murder-for-hire case was ordered released from jail without bond while her case proceeds.
Sheaurice Major was to be released Friday on her own recognizance because she has been held beyond the 180 days allowed by law without any continuance attributable to the defense, her attorney, Ray Szarmach, said.
The time may have snuck up on the players in the case, in part, because this is the second time Major has been charged with arranging the Nov. 1, 2012, shooting death of 72-year-old Portage resident Carl Griffith Sr. outside his Portage home.
Major has served 75 days behind bars since being rearrested in October and has 150 days carried over from her first time facing the charge, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor David Urbanski told the court.
The latest version of the case also has been caught up in the transition on Jan. 1 of Gary Germann as the new Porter County prosecutor.
Major sat silently during Friday's hearing and had no visible reaction to the news of her release.
Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford told Major if she fails to show up, her trial will proceed in her absence.
Both sides in the case also scrambled Friday to schedule a trial by a May 30 deadline. They agreed on April 15 and scheduled eight days through April 26. A status hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11 and a pretrial conference March 25.
Pleas of not guilty have been entered on Major's behalf to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
She had spent nearly four years behind bars the first time around before the charges were dropped in March 2017 due to a lack of evidence.
Major was taken back into custody in October after the gunman in the case, Gary resident Dontaye Singletary, reached out to police and prosecutors in August offering to provide the information they needed against Major. Singletary is serving a 65-year prison term after being found guilty in 2015 of murdering Griffith.
Singletary described how a third person — Antoinetta Johnson — contacted him Oct. 31, 2012, with the offer from Major to kill Griffith for money, according to charging information. Singletary agreed and shot Griffith outside his home in the 2700 block of Locust Street, according to court documents.
Griffith was an employee of a towing company owned by Major's estranged husband and police said Major had Griffith killed because she did not like him.
A key difficulty in making the original case against Major came with the Dec. 13, 2012, shooting death of 34-year-old Johnson in her beauty salon at 1008 W. Fifth Ave. in Gary. Johnson gave a videotaped statement before her death, which was used to convict Singletary.
The videotape was deemed admissible in Singletary's trial after it was shown that he played a role in Johnson's death. But no link was made to Major, and it was thus inadmissible in her case.