Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

July 1, 2014

Jury process begins for Hammer trial

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The sometimes long and grueling process of picking a jury began Monday morning as the trial officially got underway for an Elmore City man accused in a grisly murder.

Justin Hammer, 32, appeared relaxed while talking with a defense attorney as the jury selection began in a Garvin County District courtroom in Pauls Valley.

It was a couple of years ago when Hammer was formally accused of firing the gunshots that killed Brandon Duran in the summer of 2012.

From there the first-degree murder case gets even darker as the defendant is accused of dismembering Duran’s body in a bloody scene inside of Hammer’s residence.

Containers holding different parts of the body were later found in a pond on Hammer’s property.

Hammer’s day in court finally arrived as the largest courtroom here was packed full of prospective jurors.

The first of the random selection of names began in the late morning hours after the dozens of individuals were given a kind of orientation into the process of jury trials.

Leading that process early on was District Judge Greg Dixon, who was quick to thank the Garvin County residents for being a part of the local judicial system.

“You are vital to the administration of justice in our system,” Dixon said.

“Without you we couldn’t do this. I’m appreciative of your service.”

Hammer, wearing a long sleeve shirt and blue jeans, was joined by his attorneys Kelsie Lewis and Michael Haggerty.

Prosecutors in this case are assistant district attorneys Tara Portillo of the Garvin County office and Jennifer Austin of Norman.

The judge reminded prospective jurors they needed to come into the process with an “open mind.”

“You shouldn’t discuss this case with anyone, including your family friends,” Dixon said. “It’s important this case be decided solely on the evidence.

“It’s question and answer time,” he said about the start of jury selection.

“Basically we’re trying to get to know you better. The purpose of these questions is to get a fair jury.”

Adding to the scene was the tighter security measures in place as county deputies were using hand-held metal detectors to check most visitors to the courthouse.

Deputies were also conducting checks of bags and various other things being brought into portion of the building.

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