CROWN POINT — A judge on Monday dismissed a murder case against a felon accused of fatally shooting a woman whose body has not been found and affirmed his not guilty pleas on new gun charges.

Drew Carter III, 41, remains in custody at the Lake County Jail on a $100,000 surety or $10,000 cash bond on the gun charges.

Carter had been scheduled to stand trial Monday on charges of murder, kidnapping and criminal confinement.

After initially seeking to continue the trial, prosecutors filed a motion Sept. 17 seeking to dismiss the murder case linked to the disappearance of Jessica Flores, 36, of South Chicago Heights.

In court filings, Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Eric Randall wrote evidentiary items were still being tested by Indiana State Police. The analysis was not expected to be completed in time for trial.

Attorneys did not discuss what specific evidence is still being analyzed by state police.

Carter's attorneys, Adam Tavitas and Joseph Curosh, objected to a dismissal without prejudice, which would allow prosecutors to re-file the murder case at a later date. They argued the case be dismissed with prejudice, citing Carter's right to a speedy trial.

Randall said state statue allows prosecutors to dismiss a case without prejudice, as long as a reason is given. Because the state faced a deadline to bring Carter to trial, "every day counts," he said.

Carter's defense attorneys did not refute Randall's statement that their objection to dismissing the case was intended to preserve Carter's rights to raise further objections in the future. 

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Murray ordered the case dismissed without prejudice. 

The gun charges allege Carter — a convicted felon — had two guns in his black Pontiac G6 on March 14, the day the U.S. Marshals Service took him into custody on the murder charge.

Carter's felon status stems from a conviction in U.S. District Court in February 2000 for conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and carrying a firearm in relation to a violent crime. 

In the murder case, Carter was accused of fatally shooting Flores as she sat in the backseat of a car in Gary in late February.

Authorities found the car partially burned in Chicago, with a large amount of blood in the back seat, but her body has not been recovered, records say.

A potential witness in the case, George Heath, was found dead from a gunshot to the back of his head in March at his Gary home, court records allege. No charges have been filed in Heath's homicide.

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