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CROWN POINT — A man charged with murder in Lake Criminal Court pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal firearm offense.

Geremiah R. Erwin, 22, admitted in the plea agreement, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, he was guilty of possessing a firearm while facing charges in the murder Sept. 24, 2013, of Marchello Valliant.

Erwin allegedly possessed the 9mm pistol with an obliterated serial number sometime between March 27 and Sept. 29, according to an indictment.

The federal government agreed to recommend that the federal judge sentence Erwin to 10 months imprisonment for the offense, which is typically punishable by up to five years in prison, the plea agreement states.

The defendant can argue at sentencing for a split sentence of prison and home detention, according to the plea agreement.

A Jan. 22 trial date on the firearm charge was canceled as a result of the plea bargain, but Erwin remains charged in Lake Criminal Court in Valliant's murder.

Valliant, 30, of Hammond, was found shot to death inside a car in the 7500 block of Chestnut Avenue in Hammond, according to court records. A witness told police Valliant was shot by Erwin during a marijuana deal.

Erwin was granted a $3,000 cash bail on the murder charge in November 2015. 

Erwin is scheduled to appear Thursday in Lake Criminal Court on the murder charge.

Demario Watkins, a co-defendant in the federal case, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Watkins, 22, of Hammond, faces up to 10 years in prison for his guilty plea.


Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.