Murder suspect, 16, faces June trial
MICHIGAN CITY — The 16-year-old boy charged with murdering an 18-year-old on Karwick Road in December has been scheduled for jury trial.
Hakim Zamir Lamar Qualls will face a jury in La Porte Superior Court 1 beginning June 10, at which time he plans to claim he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Dareon Brown, according to a motion the defense filed in February.
Qualls has until his final pretrial conference on May 9 to enter a plea agreement with the state, if one can be reached.
At Qualls’ omnibus hearing Thursday, the state amended his original count of carrying a handgun without a license to dangerous possession of a handgun, a class A misdemeanor. They note in their motion that his minor age automatically precludes him from being licensed, making the amended charge equal in severity but more appropriate based on his age.
Qualls is accused of firing three shots at Brown on Dec. 18, as Brown stood outside a friend’s residence in the 200 block of Karwick Road.
The victim’s girlfriend, who was seated in her car nearby at the time of the shooting, told police she knew Qualls and Brown didn’t get along, but said there was no immediate provocation for Qualls to display or fire his weapon.
Another eyewitness told officers he saw the shooter flee the scene on foot, prompting police to place Krueger Middle and Niemann Elementary schools on lockdown and cordon off the area as they searched for their suspect.
More than seven hours later, Qualls was located in an apartment in the 200 block of Merrihill Drive, as was a backpack containing a black and brown Taurus handgun and a silver revolver.
Qualls remains incarcerated on a cash-only bail amount of $1 million, after the judge denied his request for bond reduction at a hearing in January.
If convicted, Qualls will face 45-65 years in the Indiana Department of Correction on the murder charge, and an additional year for dangerous possession of a firearm.
The victim’s brother, 16-year-old Javan Brown, was arrested in January on a murder charge stemming from another fatal shooting that, police say, may have been an act of retaliation for Dareon Brown’s death.
An amended charge of dangerous possession of a firearm was added to Javan Brown’s counts in February.
He is accused of fatally shooting 18-year-old Justin Garner inside a car in the 200 block of Jackson Street on Jan. 16.
Police said during a probable cause hearing that Garner was shot in the back of the head; and they noted the presence of a muzzle imprint on the back support and bullet hole in the headrest of Garner’s seat – behind which Javan Brown reportedly admitted to have been seated.
Dareon Brown’s girlfriend told police that, just as she had been sitting in the passenger seat when her boyfriend was killed, she had been seated next to Garner when he was shot. However, she has not been charged in relation to either shooting.
Javan Brown is scheduled to face a jury beginning May 6, with a final pretrial conference date of April 11.
Like Qualls, he remains incarcerated on a cash-only bond of $1 million pending the resolution of his case, and faces the same potential sentence of up to 66 years in prison.