Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

July 10, 2014

Murder trial photos on graphic side — Much of Tuesday’s testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Justin Hammer proved to be just as dramatic as expected.

Emotions remained in check for an eight-man, four-woman jury as one graphic photo after another was shown during testimony on the autopsy of Brandon Duran nearly two years ago now. Hammer, 32, has admitted to cutting Duran into 25 pieces after killing him by gunshot.

The deadly incident took place on Aug. 7, 2012 in the residence where Hammer lived near Elmore City. Hammer later used six separate containers to try and dispose of the body parts in the bottom of a farm pond on the property.

Hammer has maintained he feared for his life and killed Duran in self defense. The graphic photos of Duran’s dismembered body parts were on full display and included in the testimony by Dr. Chai Choi of the state medical examiner’s office. Choi provided jurors with more details about her findings, including her conclusions on how Duran died.

Duran sustained a single shotgun wound to the head, but Choi described it as “likely” the three handgun shots also into his head are probably what killed him.

“Maybe the shotgun wound was fatal if you didn’t get medical attention right away,” Choi said. “Probably not but possible. There were three gunshots that went into the brain and didn’t come out,” she said, adding nine fragments from those shots were recovered from Duran’s head. “Individually — one, two, three — the shots could have been fatal. Altogether, absolutely fatal.”

She told jurors the shotgun blast, fired “in close range” of Duran, went into his right cheek and exited on the left side of his face. The three shots from a .22 caliber handgun were fired in Duran’s left temple. Findings from the autopsy led Choi to believe Duran’s body was dismembered by Hammer using a saw only after he was dead.

 A toxicology analysis showed Duran did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system when he was fatally shot, Choi said during her testimony.

Later in Tuesday’s proceedings Hammer’s father, Bobby Hammer, testified he was the actual owner of the house where his son lived when Duran was killed. The older Hammer said a .22 caliber revolver with blood on the end was found inside a safe in the house.

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