« Back to News

E.C. councilman has initial hearing on murder charge

October 16, 2015

CROWN POINT | East Chicago 3rd District councilman Robert "Coop" Battle made his initial hearing Friday in the Lake County Jail on allegations that he killed a man once associated with the Two Six street gang.

Handcuffed and wearing a striped gray and black uniform, Battle appeared in front of Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan where he was told he is facing a murder charge. He was surrounded in a small courtroom inside the jail by other defendants facing criminal charges.

Asked by Sullivan if he understood the charge, Battle kept his head held high as he said, "Yes."

He is accused of shooting Reimundo "Rey" Camarillo Jr., 31, of East Chicago, once in the back Monday on the 4200 block of Euclid Avenue, according to court records. Camarillo was pronounced dead at the scene.

Residents told police they heard men arguing loudly just before the city's ShotSpotter indicated three gunshots in the area, police said.

Court records indicate Battle lives where the argument initially started, which was the house police later searched. During Friday's hearing, Battle said he lives on the 4700 block of Alexander Street in East Chicago.

Hours after the shooting, East Chicago police detectives and federal agents went to the law office of Walter Alvarez after they were told Battle wanted to turn himself in.

Alvarez served as the middleman to communicate between police and his then client. According to the affidavit, Alvarez said Battle shot Camarillo in self-defense after Camarillo pulled a knife on Battle. As the conversations continued, Battle said there was no struggle before the shooting, according to the affidavit.

Police could not find a knife or a gun at the scene. There was no record of Battle making a 911 call to report the shooting.

Battle is now represented by defense attorney John Cantrell. Battle, who had a large Band-Aid on his neck, did not say anything during the hearing other than to give yes or no answers to Sullivan's questions.

He is scheduled to make his formal appearance Oct. 20 in front of Lake County Criminal Judge Clarence Murray.

The same day Battle was charged with murder, he was charged in a separate federal case with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court outlines how federal officials had been investigating Battle since April and learned he was traveling to a home in Flint, Mich., where a reputed cocaine dealer lives.

On Sept. 23, Battle was stopped along Interstate 94 in Porter County. Police found 73.22 grams of marijuana in his vehicle along with $100,700 in cash, according to the indictment.

No hearings had been set as of Friday in the federal case.

NW Times