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guilty verdict at mc murder trial

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 16:53 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Prosecutors during trial relied heavily on witnesses identifying a then 16-year old gunman in the 2011 death of a 17-year old girl at a sweet 16 birthday party for two friends in Michigan City was coming to a bullet ridden close.

The defense questioned their credibility, saying one was ''lying through their teeth'' while another had previously recanted his story and a third only told the police ''what they wanted to hear.''

That was among the evidence a LaPorte Superior Court 1 jury sorted through before finding Charles Gerron guilty of murder Tuesday night.

The jury deliberated for about five-hours.

Judge Michael Bergerson scheduled October 26 to sentence Gerron, who could face anywhere from 45 to 65 years.

NeKeisha Hodges-Hawkins died from being struck by a single gunshot to the back of the head.

Close to her was James Sanders hit on his lower leg.

During closing arguments, LaPorte County Prosecutor John Espar said there was evidence backing up claims of witnesses like a man fitting the defendant's description fleeing after the shooting on a moped that Gerron drove to the party.

He also brought up Gerron telling someone ''let's shoot this party up and cut out'' then after the gunfire pulling up to a friend's house on a moped and revealing he had shot Sanders and fired two other rounds.

Gerron was also seen at the party with a gun tucked into his waistband, said Espar.

According to authorities, Hodges-Hawkins was among 50 or more people leaving the party after a verbal altercation erupted between two females inside the building.

Soon, at least two men from rival gangs began exchanging heated words in the parking lot when six shots rang out.

Espar said the first three up in the air were from a then 18-year old Cameron Kent while the final ones fired more rapidly were from Gerron.

Gerron may not have intended to harm the girl but all that mattered for a conviction was knowing the risks of firing a gun into a crowd, he said.

The gun used in the killing was never recovered.

But, Espar said Gerron was injured several months prior to the party by a 38 caliber handgun in his front pants pocket discharging and the bullet fragment removed from the victim was from a weapon of the same caliber.

King, though, said several other calibers leave the same type of bullet markings and felt police rushed to arrest Gerron simply to squelch a month of protesting from the victim's family about the case remaining unsolved.

''If these witnesses were so compelling, why did it take you until December 20, 2016 to accuse this young man,'' said King.

King also pointed out Kent was arrested orignally for both shootings and under a plea agreement was given 18 months probation for the shooting of Sanders after agreeing to cooperate in the investigation.

He was charged with criminal recklessness and King wondered why his client was hit with a much more serious murder charge.

''What's the new evidence. Absolutely nothing,'' he said.