The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 10, 2021 1:00 am

Jurors listen to robbery recount

To decide if murder conviction necessary

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Twelve jurors sat through gruesome testimony Wednesday describing a robbery that turned into the cold-blooded shooting of three people. 

By week's end, those same jurors have the task of deciding whether Jamesley Paul, 24, deserves to be convicted of murder and other charges. 

Paul, who appeared in court with two Creole translators, faces two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and using a firearm in a deadly crime. 

Mon Ong, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Brooke Wendel, 23, was shot and died shortly after at a hospital. Meng Kem, now 28, who was renting the home, survived with crippling injuries that make it hard for him to walk and use his right arm and hand. 

Two other men were charged in the shooting deaths. Kyaw Htet Hlang, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder and robbery and was sentenced last year to 50 years in prison. 

Kerwins Louis, 20, was charged with two counts murder, two counts felony murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and using a firearm to commit the crime. He will face a jury in September. 

During opening arguments, Paul's attorney, Nicholas Adams, tried to establish that Paul and his cousin Louis didn't know Hlang that well and had come along to buy some marijuana. 

Tom Chaille, deputy prosecutor, said Hlang, who may or may not testify, contacted Louis about “getting a lick,” slang for the robbery in which Meng's gold box with $1,500, fentanyl pills, marijuana vape cartridges and marijuana was stolen. 

Hlang had lived in the home with Meng and a couple of other men, but Meng testified he'd kicked him out around the end of January last year because he hadn't paid rent. 

Chaille said an Allen County Jail inmate, who was a friend of Wendel's family, claimed in a jailhouse interview Paul told him what had happened around 12:30 a.m.

Paul allegedly told the inmate he wanted Wendel's family to know he “wasn't the one who fired the shot” that killed her. 

Adams called the witness “a jailhouse snitch” who was looking for reduced time. 

“The jailhouse snitch wrote to the prosecutor with a completely different story about what happened,” Adams said. 

Meng testified on the stand that even though it was dark and he'd been shot and was bleeding, he saw all three men shoot the three victims.

Meng said he answered the door after he recognized Hlang's voice. Standing there were Hlang, also known as “John” and “Gotti,” and two other men. 

Paul has said he waited in the car with Louis while Hlang was inside the home. 

Meng testified he and the two other victims were told to lie on the floor while the robbery and shooting unfolded. 

Adams argued Meng wasn't a reliable witness because he was on drugs that night, namely marijuana and fentanyl. 

Adams said Meng claimed the two other men had American accents, although it was presumed Paul had a Haitian accent as he was in court with Creole translators. 

Meng recalled Ong being shot in the back. The coroner's report indicated he died from a shot to the chest, Adams said, and a state forensic expert matched shell casings at the scene to “a single gun.”

Testifying in the case were Ong's sister, Mon Hta; Wendel's mother, Ami Gilliam; and Nicholas Hauenstein, who stopped in to visit Meng just after the killings and called 911. 

The trial is expected to end today or Friday.

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