Murder defendant in November 2012 bar shooting in Elkhart makes first court appearance
GOSHEN — A man serving time in prison for a burglary was brought back to Elkhart County, where he faces new charges in connection with a homicide.
Cortez Wheeler, 24, of Elkhart, appeared Thursday morning, April 3, in Elkhart Circuit Court for an initial hearing.
Wheeler was charged in December with murder and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He is accused of fatally shooting Cordero Williams-El, 25, outside Gemini’s Bar and Grill, 23845 U.S. 33, on Nov. 23, 2012.
Because of his previous burglary conviction, Wheeler is considered a serious violent felon. If convicted, he faces up to 80 years in prison.
Wheeler was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley facility serving time for a burglary charge. His projected date of release for his burglary conviction is May 2015, according to the Indiana Department of Correction website.
According to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest, police determined both Wheeler and Williams-El pointed a gun at each other just before Wheeler pulled the trigger.
Williams-El died from a gunshot wound to his chest, according to the affidavit.
Two women were injured during the shooting as well. One woman was shot in her right hand's middle finger while she ran for cover. Another woman was shot between her index and middle fingers.
A witness told detectives with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department that he was walking with Williams-El out the bar when four or five men approached them. When he saw one of the men flashing a gun, the witness ran back into the bar.
Wheeler was appointed an attorney from the public defender's office. His trial was scheduled for July 7.