Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

May 30, 2013

Murder trial to wait for now

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A trial date will have to wait after an Elmore City murder defendant had his defense attorney withdraw from the case.

Irven Box of Oklahoma City has decided another attorney, possibly a court-appointed one, would be best for Justin Hammer, 31.

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 then sawed the body into a number of parts and attempted to conceal them in a pond on his own property.

During a recent appearance in a Pauls Valley courtroom Box asked for and was given permission to withdraw as Hammer’s attorney.

It’s believed enough funding to provide for a suitable defense was the issue leading to Box’s withdrawal.

Box has indicated he believed 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 a suitable defense.

With the defendant requesting another attorney a formal arraignment was postponed until June 28. If the hearing does take place a jury trial will be set in the case 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 the Hammer residence.

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

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