Qualls murder trial set for November

Hakim Zamir Lamar Qualls

MICHIGAN CITY – The date for the jury trial for 17-year-old murder suspect Hakim Zamir Lamar Qualls was confirmed Thursday.

Jury selection will begin Nov. 4; and Qualls – who is accused of fatally shooting 18-year-old Dareon Brown last December – will return to La Porte Superior Court 1 for his final pre-jury hearing on Oct. 24.

Thursday was the last date by which Judge Michael Bergerson was willing to accept a plea agreement in the case; so unless he intends to plead guilty to murder, Qualls is locked into that trial.

In addition to being charged with murder, punishable by 45-65 years in prison, Qualls also faces a class A misdemeanor count of dangerous possession of a firearm.

Michigan City Police say Qualls fired three shots at Brown outside a Karwick Road residence on Dec. 18, then fled the scene on foot.

He was apprehended several hours later at a Merrihill Drive apartment, where officers say they also recovered a backpack containing two handguns.

Brown’s girlfriend, who witnessed the shooting, told police that Qualls and Brown did not like each other, but that the shooting was unprovoked.

In February, Qualls filed a formal notice that he intends to claim the shooting occurred in self-defense.

As he awaits the resolution of his case, he remains incarcerated on a cash-only bond of $1 million.

A month after Brown was killed, his younger brother, Javan D. Brown, then 16, was arrested for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Justin A. Garner.

At a probable cause hearing in that case, police testified they were concerned the second shooting may have been retaliation for the first.

The Browns’ mother contacted The Herald-Argus to refute the suggestion that the two incidents were connected.

However, because neither case has gone to trial and law enforcement has declined to discuss the facts of an open investigation, the cases have not been linked or unlinked beyond what was said at the probable cause hearing.

Javan Brown’s jury trial is set to begin Oct. 28 in La Porte Superior Court 1.

He, too, remains incarcerated on a $1 million bond, cash only.

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