CROWN POINT — A judge granted a Hammond man's petition for bail on a murder charge after a police officer's testimony earlier this month showed the shooting likely was an accident, records show.
Edgar Del Real, 37, was charged with murder, two counts of burglary and battery in September after fatally shooting Steven Robledo, 37, as Del Real and Robledo confronted a man Del Real suspected of molesting his young female relative.
Del Real and Robledo were drinking at a Hammond bar before they went to the man's house in the 2600 block of White Oak Avenue in Whiting. They initially brought a hammer to break the man's windows, but Del Real then decided he wanted to beat up the man, court records show.
They entered an unlocked screen door and went upstairs to the man's apartment, where the men met them holding a 12-gauge shotgun.
Del Real began punching the man. As Del Real wrestled the shotgun away from the man, it went off and killed Robledo, records say.
"Defendants who are charged with murder in Indiana are not entitled to bond unless the court finds that the state's evidence for the crime of murder is not strong," said Scott King, Del Real's defense attorney.
During a hearing April 3, Whiting Lt. Sam Abner testified police have not developed any evidence to show the discharge of the shotgun was anything other than an accident, King wrote in a recent court filing.
At the recommendation of a magistrate, Lake Criminal Court Judge Clarence Murray on Thursday set Del Real's bond at $50,000 surety or $5,000 cash.
Del Real was released on bond Thursday, King said.
"This case should never have been charged as murder," King said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Del Real had to sit for seven months before the facts were presented to the court. I know he and his family are thankful that they get to spend Easter together as a family. We are confident that he will be fully exonerated at or prior to trial."
Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Brown objected to allowing any bond for Del Real, writing in a legal filing the state is not suggesting Del Real "maliciously killed" Robledo.
"Rather, the state argues the evidence unambiguously shows Del Real helped orchestrate and participate in a burglary wherein he accidentally and tragically killed Robledo," Brown wrote.
King argued there was no evidence of a burglary, because Del Real and Robledo entered an unlocked screen door at an entryway to an apartment building. When they arrived at the man's door, it was open and the man met them holding a shotgun, King wrote.
Brown argued state statute says a burglary can be committed by opening an unlocked door. Del Real's intent to commit a "felonious battery" was clear, he wrote.