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Prosecutors file robbery charge against state's witness in murder case

Prosecutors file robbery charge against state's witness in murder case

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Dezman C. Dukes

Dezman C. Dukes

CROWN POINT — Lake County prosecutors filed a robbery charge against a Gary man, who was a witness in a separate case against a man accused of killing a teenager in 2019 while trying to rob him of an Xbox.

Dezman C. Dukes, 20, of Gary, has not yet entered a plea to a felony charge alleging he robbed a Domino's pizza delivery driver June 9, 2019, in the 5000 block of Pennsylvania Street in Gary's Glen Park section.

Dukes and Garry L. Higgins IV, 19, of Gary, initially were charged in the June 12, 2019, shooting death of 17-year-old Johnny Peluyera in the 5000 block of Maryland Street in Gary.

The charges against Dukes were rejected in 2019 for lack of probable cause, and prosecutors later withdrew them. Dukes initially cooperated with the state, but a Lake Criminal Court judge recently granted the state's request for a warrant for him because he stopped participating in proceedings in its case against Higgins.

Higgins pleaded guilty last week to attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a level 2 felony. If Judge Natalie Bokota accepts his plea agreement, he could face 10 to 30 years in prison.

Join Tristan DeFord, Jami Rieck, and Nancy Zakutanksky on a shift working for Superior Ambulance in Merrillville.

Police linked Higgins and Dukes to Peluyera's homicide and the robbery of the Domino's driver by reviewing phone data and call and text records, according to court documents.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges against Higgins in the Domino's robbery and other cases in exchange for his plea in Peluyera's homicide.

According to court records, Dukes' voice could be heard during a call to Domino's on June 9, 2019.

Dukes allegedly told police in fall 2020 he was present during the robbery of the pizza delivery driver and was with Higgins when Higgins called in the order.

"Dukes attempted to minimize his involvement with the robbery and insisted he only watched but did not participate," court records state. "It was later learned that Dukes played a larger role in the robbery than previously told."

Dukes has not yet entered a plea to the robbery charge.


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