Gary man convicted in drug deal slaying

A jury convicted Rahmere Dunn of murder Friday for killing a man buying marijuana from him.

His sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

Deputy Prosecutors Tara Villarreal and Jacquelyn Altpeter alleged Dunn killed Jediah Perry, 21, of Gary, on Nov. 12, 2021, in a drug deal gone bad. Defense lawyer Lonnie Randolph II said it was self-defense and Perry had tried to enlist a cousin to help him rob Dunn.

In closing arguments, Altpeter argued it wasn’t self-defense. Dunn “executed” him and knew what he was doing when he shot him five times in the head.

“That’s a kill shot,” she said.

She disputed Dunn returned to the crime scene, saying there were no license plate reader pings or other evidence corroborating it.

“That was a lie,” she said.

Dunn took his .380-caliber and Perry’s .40-caliber gun, plus Perry’s cell phone. Why would he get rid of the most important piece of evidence that could prove his case, Altpeter said. He deleted their Facebook messages setting up the drug deal about an hour after the shooting.

Altpeter claimed there was “no reason” for investigators to get fingerprint or DNA evidence, since Dunn was always the “sole suspect.” It wasn’t a “whodunit,” she said.

Randolph countered Dunn was faced with a life-or-death situation, forced to use “by any means necessary” to spare his own life. Dunn left a friend’s house where they were smoking marijuana to do a favor for Perry, a friend, by selling him some weed, the lawyer said.

Dunn wasn’t “trying to be conspicuous,” still wearing a bright work vest from his Lear Corp. forklift driver shift. Perry was a “masked man,” in all black, wearing a ski-like mask. Dunn testified Thursday they knew each other, and he wasn’t worried about what Perry was wearing.

Randolph argued Dunn showed up first and Perry was the one who was scoping out the situation – pulling up, then circling the block before parking again near Dunn outside a 5th Avenue soul food restaurant.

Soon after Dunn got into Perry’s car, he had a Glock .40-caliber handgun to his head, the lawyer argued. When he ran out after killing Perry, he left money and the drugs inside Perry’s car. What was Dunn getting out of it?

It was “never his intention” to kill Perry, Randolph said. Dunn’s plan was to leave his friend’s, go make $140 and come back.

Randolph disputed several elements of the police investigation, including why the money and drugs found on the driver’s side of Perry’s Honda Civic were not tested for fingerprints or DNA, which would have shown how it ended up there, he said.

The case’s detective, Gary Police Detective Daryl Gordon, testified he watched the restaurant’s security video up to nearly 9 p.m., when the cops arrived. The jury only saw up to the shooting.

“You gotta get this right,” Randolph said.

Randolph put on his own black balaclava mask for jurors and pointed his hand like a gun.

“If Rahmere wouldn’t have done what he did, it would have been, ‘bang’, ‘bang’, ‘bang’ on him,” he said.

Judge Salvador Vasquez barred Dunn’s friend, who was with Dunn at his home before the shooting, from testifying Friday when court officials realized he had slipped into court Thursday and watched 40 minutes of Dunn’s testimony, including when he gave his side of the shooting, a serious violation of court protocol where witnesses are not allowed to hear each other’s testimony.

Villarreal noted the pair had several jail calls this week. Randolph argued the friend said he sold the guns and could corroborate parts of Dunn’s testimony.

Police were called at 8:39 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2021, where officers found Perry shot dead inside his car in front of Kelly’s Soul Food, 5025 W. 5th Ave., charges allege. He died from five gunshots to the head, according to the Lake County coroner’s office.

Security video appeared to show Perry circling the block, then pulling up next to Dunn’s Chrysler 300 at 4:53 p.m.

The man, later identified as Dunn, wore a reflective vest when he got out of the 300 and jumped inside Perry’s car. He briefly went back into his car before grabbing marijuana from his vehicle. He then went back into Perry’s car before he suddenly got out, hopped back into his car and sped off on 5th Avenue around 4:57 p.m., the affidavit states.

Earlier at trial, Randolph said in court there was a gap in footage from the restaurant. He never got the last few hours after the shooting, even though he had subpoenaed Gary Police for it. Gordon, again under oath, said he didn’t have it and turned over all evidence to prosecutors, who gave a copy to Randolph.

Perry’s cousin didn’t show for two earlier depositions, Randolph said, and wasn’t at the trial. During trial, lawyers examined case notes from an interview with Gordon where the man said Perry didn’t pick him up that day, but the notes didn’t say why.