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Defendant admits he stabbed man, dumped body in pond, court records show

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CROWN POINT — A 20-year-old man could face up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a reduced charged in the stabbing death of an East Chicago man nearly two years ago.

Christian O. Mora, of East Chicago, pleaded guilty Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter, a level 2 felony, in the homicide of 34-year-old Erik Lozano on Dec. 1, 2019, in the parking lot of a BMO Harris bank branch in East Chicago.

Mora admitted in a plea agreement he was acting under sudden heat when he stabbed Lozano "many times" while the two argued about money.

Mora and co-defendants Casey J. Hall Jr., 20, of Merrillville; Adam M. Martin, 21, of Lake Station; and Nathaniel J. Ostapchuk, 23, of Hammond, put Lozano's body in the trunk of Mora's car and "drove around to various locations getting ready to dispose of Erik Lozano's body," the plea agreement states.

Mora and Hall eventually dumped Lozano's body in a pond in Lake Station, where Lozano was later found by a resident, according to Lake Criminal Court records.

Charging documents alleged Mora and his co-defendants went to East Chicago on Thanksgiving night 2019 to rob drug users.

While driving around with Lozano's body, the group stopped at Martin's home so Martin could retrieve bleach and other items, records allege. 

If Judge Salvador Vasquez accepts Mora's plea agreement, Mora could face a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Voluntary manslaughter typically carries a possible penalty of up to 30 years, but Lake County prosecutors agreed to a 20-year cap in Mora's case.

Hall pleaded guilty in August to assisting a criminal, a level 5 felony. If Vasquez accepts Hall's plea agreement, Hall could face a sentence of one to two years. 

Martin and Ostapchuk have pleaded not guilty. Martin is due in court later this month, and Ostapchuk's next court date was set for mid-November.


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