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Trial in Taneff homicides delayed as defense fights to suppress video evidence

Trial in Taneff homicides delayed as defense fights to suppress video evidence


CROWN POINT — A trial was continued Friday for a man charged with strangling a local radio personality and her daughter in 2016, records show.

James A. Lohnes, 48, also is seeking to suppress a video police say shows him at the property of Velia "Val" Taneff, 86, and her daughter Lana Taneff, 63, on Jan. 16 and 17, 2016.

The Taneffs were found strangled to death Jan. 17 at Velia Taneff's property in the 2300 block of West 44th Avenue in Calumet Township. Lohnes was arrested about a week later in Ohio, after an officer stopped him for speeding in Velia Taneff's missing Cadillac.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas last week granted a request from defense attorneys Nicholas Barnes and Mark Chargualaf seeking to continue Lohnes' trial, which had been set for Nov. 12. Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Watson didn't object to the delay.

Cappas also granted the defense's request that Lohnes be tried separately in the two cases in which he's charged.

Lohnes is charged with two counts of murder and auto theft in the Taneff case, and three counts of criminal confinement, strangulation, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and battery resulting in bodily injury stemming from a Jan. 6, 2016, incident.

Cappas found Lohnes competent to stand trial in August, following evaluations by several mental health professionals. 

The judge scheduled Lohnes' trials to begin the weeks of Feb. 24 and March 2.

Cappas also heard testimony Friday on Lohnes' motion to suppress video evidence in the Taneff case. A second hearing on the motion was set for Nov. 12, records show.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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