VALPARAISO — Two of the three Gary teens picked up in connection with last week's murder and robbery of a 27-year-old Portage woman they met through Facebook were introduced to adult court Wednesday morning.
Shaun Thompson, 16, and Jonathan Brown, 17, had little to say when appearing before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper for an initial hearing on charges of murder, robbery and a new charge of murder in the perpetuation of a robbery.
Harper entered preliminary pleas of not guilty for both defendants.
Defense attorney Mark Gruenhagen was present on behalf of Brown, and Thompson said his mother was working on hiring him an attorney.
The courtroom was partly filled with individuals who were reportedly family members of the both the victim and defendants.
Thompson and Brown, who appeared via a videoconferencing system from the Porter County Jail, are being held without bond as a result of murder charges.
A 15-year-old boy from Gary, who is also expected to be charged as an adult after a waiver process from the juvenile system, has a hearing scheduled for Monday, according to court records.
The Times is not naming the boy until he is charged.
Police say the trio shot Adriana Saucedo and stole $80 from her Nov. 19 after picking her up about 4:30 p.m. at an apartment on Kathryn Court in Portage. They lured her out with the false claim of selling her marijuana, police said.
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After stopping to have her pay for gasoline, police said they drove to the parking lot of the nearby Frontier building at 2059 Crisman Road in Portage.
The 15-year-old, who had initially connected with Saucedo on Facebook and who was driving the car, said he then heard a gunshot in the backseat and turned to see that Thompson had shot the woman, police said.
After the shooting, the trio traveled to Horace S. Norton Elementary School, 1356 Harrison Blvd. in Gary, and the 15-year-old said he helped remove Saucedo's body from the car and remained outside while the other two juveniles dragged her "lifeless body" into the school.
The younger boy later took police to the school, where officers found Saucedo's body in the cafeteria area under a large roll of red carpet, according to charging documents.
The 9mm Ruger semiautomatic handgun believed to have been used in the killing was recovered from a wooded area in Gary, police said.
Saucedo was a medical assistant at a business in Valparaiso.
Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter
Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.