HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A reputed Imperial Gangsters member who faces the death penalty is fighting federal prosecutors’ efforts to have a fully anonymous jury at his trial in January.
Juan “Tito” Briseno of East Chicago is one of 24 reputed members of the Almighty Imperial Gangster Nation named in a federal indictment alleging they were responsible for 13 murders and 19 attempted murders.
Briseno is accused of six of those murders and of seven attempted murders, The Times reported. Prosecutors say he also participated in an 11-year racketeering scheme involving drug dealing, robberies, carjackings, burglaries and other crimes.
Federal prosecutors want the identities of jurors at Briseno’s Jan. 12 trial kept secret from Briseno and the media to shield them from potential harassment or intimidation.
But Briseno’s attorneys say keeping jurors names’ secret could deprive their client of an impartial jury and say neither Briseno nor anyone he knows has the desire or ability to harm jurors.
Prosecutors say Briseno has acknowledged that many local gang members are relatives. The convictions of 23 of the 24 gang members indicted in the case have “not obliterated the capacity of even the Northwest Indiana IGs (or their relatives) to harm jurors,” prosecutors wrote in a document filed recently in federal court in Hammond.
Prosecutors have rejected a suggestion by Briseno’s attorneys that jurors’ names be kept from the media but not their client. They say that arrangement “would leave Mr. Briseno free to communicate the jurors’ names, residential addresses, employment addresses, and the like to whomever he chooses through visits, telephone calls, mail and through intermediaries.”
Both sides have agreed to a questionnaire that would not reveal jurors’ identities but would provide extensive information about them and their thoughts about gangs, crime, drugs, the death penalty and other topics.