HAMMOND — A federal judge has scheduled a drug trial early next year for the estranged husband of a Gary city councilwoman.
U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon has ordered the selection of jurors to begin Jan. 10, 2022, to hear evidence against 45-year-old Teddia “Teddy” Caldwell and his co-defendants, 29-year-old Devonte “Lil Bro” Hodge, 27-year-old Devontae Martin and 27-year-old Taquan “Boonie” Clarke, all of Gary.
The trial is expected to last as long as three weeks.
Caldwell, the estranged husband of Gary Councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell, is accused of directing his co-defendants to sell heroin and crack cocaine between June 2016 and February 2018.
Caldwell also is charged with the murders of 29-year-old Akeem Oliver on Oct. 8, 2016, and 43-year-old Kevin Hood on July 28, 2017 in the course of their illicit trafficking.
Hodge is charged with Caldwell in Oliver’s death. Martin and Clarke are charged with Caldwell in Hood’s death.
The four men have been awaiting trial since their arrests in February 2018.
The case was first delayed while government prosecutors and defense attorneys processed large volumes of evidence created by a lengthy investigation conducted by a federal drug task force including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, the Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Gary Police Department.
The case was further put on hold while attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice decided whether to seek the death penalty against Caldwell. The government eventually declined to press capital murder charges.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused more postponements as jury trials were put off for much of last year to avoid the public health hazard of assembling large groups of jurors and court staff.
A total of nine men and women were initially charged in the case.
Federal prosecutors earlier won convictions of co-defendants Victor "Vic" Young, 47, of Calumet City, Cornell “Knuckles” Allen, 42 and Terry Brown, 35, both of Gary.
The drug conspiracy charges were dismissed against the two remaining defendants.