Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

July 3, 2013

Murder case gets new defense lead

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A new attorney has been appointed to an Elmore City man accused of brutally murdering another man and attempting to dispose of his body in parts.

In late May the original attorney representing Justin Hammer, 31, decided to withdraw from the case.

Now Hammer’s new defense counsel is D. Michael Haggerty II of Durant, who this week was appointed by the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, also known as O.I.D.S.

The court-appointed route for the case became necessary after Irven Box of Oklahoma City decided a new attorney would be the best thing for Hammer.

Hammer is facing a formal charge of first-degree murder with deliberate intent for killing Brandon Duran on the night of Aug. 7, 2012 at Hammer’s rural residence northeast of Elmore City

He has admitted to then sawing the body into a number of parts and attempted to conceal them in a pond on his own property in the Elmore City area.

Enough funding for a suitable defense was at the center of Box’s request to withdraw as the attorney on record.

His belief was prosecutors would at some point file the paperwork formally seeking the death penalty in the case. In that scenario expenses would likely have increased with a second attorney hired to help with the defense.

It was argued a court appointed attorney through the state’s indigent capital defense system might be the best way for Hammer to get that suitable defense.

A recent proceeding in the case was postponed, which is now reset to Aug. 2 in a Garvin County District courtroom. A trial date for Hammer is expected to be scheduled at that time.

During a preliminary hearing in late February a handful of witnesses took the stand offering testimony ranging from Hammer’s admission of the deadly act and subsequent self defense claim to the defendant asking a friend to help dispose of the body after it was cut into pieces.

Hammer has claimed it was self defense when he used a shotgun to fire the deadly shot into the face of Duran.

He told authorities that Duran was making verbal threats while forcing his way through a door at Hammer’s rural residence.

An investigator testifying at a hearing last year said there was evidence showing Hammer might have planned out the killing in advance.