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Courts

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Attorney wants murder charge in 2011 death dismissed

The attorney representing a Fort Wayne man accused of murder in Noble County wants the charge dismissed.

In March, Andres Gonzalez Jr., 35, was charged with murder and removing a body from the scene of a violent and suspicious death in the killing of 36-year-old Erin Justin in the summer of 2011.

If he can’t get the charges dismissed, Noble County Chief Public Defender James Abbs wants the case transferred to Allen County, where court documents allege Justin was killed and from where Andres Gonzalez and his brother Victor Gonzalez, 32, took her body.

About a month after she was last seen in Fort Wayne, Justin’s water-logged body was pulled from a rural Noble County lake, 32 miles from a motel room she shared with her fiance.

An autopsy was inconclusive as to how she died and whether her death was an accident or a homicide.

No more was heard about the case until March, when Noble County Prosecutor Steve Clouse announced the charges against the Gonzalez brothers. The arrests came after detectives with the Noble County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police received a tip about what happened to the woman.

When they interviewed the brothers, police were told Andres Gonzalez attacked her after picking her up on Bluffton Road as he drove home from work and took her to his garage in the 3800 block of Holton Avenue. He said she became unresponsive and he believed she was dead, according to court documents.

Victor Gonzalez said after his brother contacted him to help dispose of a woman’s body, he arrived at a garage and found the woman covered in cardboard and plastic and attached to a concrete block. He told investigators the body was starting to smell and cold to the touch, according to court documents.

The case is being prosecuted in Noble County after a discussion between Clouse and the office of Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards.

But in a motion filed Wednesday afternoon, Abbs argued the state’s constitution provides those charged with the right to a trial in the county where the crime is alleged to have been committed.

And while the crime of murder can be charged where the body is discovered under Indiana law, the law does not overrule the state’s constitution.

If a judge declines his request to dismiss the charges, Abbs wants the case moved to Allen County where court documents allege Andres Gonzalez attacked Justin and killed her.

Clouse declined to comment on the defense motion Wednesday afternoon. No hearing on the motion has been set.

rgreen@jg.net

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