Charges filed in fatal stabbing on Crown Point square
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent January 13, 2012 8:20PM
CROWN POINT — Murder and voluntary manslaughter charges were filed Friday against the lone suspect in the fatal early Thanksgiving morning stabbing of a Crown Point man on the downtown square.
Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land and Mayor David Uran announced the charges and arrest of Jeffrey M. Nemcek, 22, of Crown Point in a news conference Friday evening.
Nemcek is accused of stabbing Crown Point resident Brandon Huseman, 26, in the abdomen about 1:30 a.m. Nov. 24 after a verbal altercation escalated into a physical confrontation.
Huseman died in surgery later that morning at Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point after identifying Nemcek from a photo array. According to the probable cause affidavit, Huseman’s liver was nearly severed in the attack.
Nemcek was taken into custody without incident Friday from his workplace at Sears Appliance, 120 U.S. 41 in Schererville, by the U.S. Marshall’s Great Lakes Regional Task Force. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on a no-bond warrant.
“We think this is a good first step into bringing some closure to (Huseman’s) family,” Uran said.
A visibly upset Kevin Huseman of Lowell, Brandon’s father, arrived at the police station to pick up documents as the news conference ended. Kevin Huseman said the family was not prepared to comment.
Land said the department has been working hard the past eight weeks to present a solid case to the prosecutor’s office. Cmdr. Len Homola said the department put in between 120 and 150 man hours of overtime working the case along with the weeks of regular hours worked by police. Detectives Ryan Patrick and Robert Franko led the investigation with Homola.
“The challenge we had is we didn’t have an independent witness. In any case, that is the ideal situation,” Land said.
Witnesses to the crime were in the group of two men and four women with Huseman at the time of the stabbing. One of the witnesses was Huseman’s wife, Kristin. Nemcek was alone. Land said police tried unsuccessfully to find additional witnesses since so many people were out on the square celebrating for Thanksgiving eve.
“We were cognizant of the fact this is obviously very serious. We felt it was prudent to deliberately take our time and be as prudent as possible (with the investigation),” he said.
Witnesses were interviewed several times and their stories remained consistent, officials said. Police also subpoenaed and reviewed surveillance video from a number of downtown business including Centier Bank, but none captured the attack.
According to the probable cause affidavit the altercation took place when Huseman and his group were leaving the Bar Association bar at 101 S. Court St. Witnesses said the group was walking south on Court Street when a man later identified as Nemcek walked passed them southbound.
When Nemcek passed the group, he said “you guys look like you could use a DD (designated driver),” according to witness accounts. Someone in Huseman’s group responded, “you look like you need a designated driver” to Nemcek, who then turned around and started walking toward the group making statements including “What, you got something to say to me?” and “What, you want to fight?”
Witnesses said Huseman attempted to disperse the group, raising his hands and telling his friends, “We’re leaving.” It was at that time, witnesses said, Nemcek appeared to punch Huseman three times. Witnesses described Huseman as the smallest person in the group. At no time did Huseman exchange words with Nemcek, they said.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Huseman said he did not realize he had been stabbed until he saw the blood. Police were able to get a statement from Huseman at the hospital before he died.
Nemcek was unknown to members of Huseman’s group. Nemcek has had minor encounters with law enforcement including a charge last fall for hunting or fishing without a license, Land said. He also previously was charged with possession of marijuana. The disposition of those charges was unknown at press time.