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Hit-And-Run Driver Charged With Murder

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Alfred Vela

Alfred Vela, 44, is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and failure to stop at an accident involving death. (Credit: Lake County, Ind., Police Department)

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HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — A northwest Indiana man has been charged with murder for allegedly hitting another man with his car because the victim was seeing the driver’s girlfriend.

Prosecutors in Lake County, Ind., said Alfred Vela, 44, was angry with his girlfriend because of her relationship with another man.

At about 6:25 p.m. Sunday, the woman was walking hand-in-hand with Joseph Burton, 28, on the 900 block of Michigan Street in Hammond, when Vela allegedly struck Burton with his 2001 Pontiac Grand Am, authorities said.

Burton, of 5412 Howard Ave. in Hammond, was knocked out of his shoes upon impact and his girlfriend was knocked down.

Burton was taken to Saint Margaret Hospital in Hammond. He was later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead Monday night.

Late Tuesday, Vela was charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and failure to stop at an accident involving death.

The woman told police that at the time of the incident she was involved with both Burton and Vela, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Lake County Superior Court. She said Vela hated her relationship with Burton and had tried to hit Burton with his car in the past.

After striking Burton with the car, which belongs to his ex-wife, Vela kept going, according to the affidavit. He stopped in Gary to assess the damage to the car, then drove to his home in Portage, hiding the car behind the house.

In a taped statement to police, Vela said when he saw Burton and the woman walking in the street, he immediately swerved toward Burton in order to “brush him” and scare him. He also admitted striking Burton with the Grand Am, according to the affidavit.

According to the, Burton died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and spinal areas. Autopsy results were not yet available.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)

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