Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

September 30, 2013

Date now set for murder trial

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A trial date is now set in 2014 for an Elmore City man accused of brutally murdering another man and attempting to dispose of his body in parts last year.

It’s been nearly 14 months since Justin Hammer, 31, was taken into custody after various parts of Brandon Duran’s body were found in a pond on Hammer’s property near Elmore City.

Hammer is facing a formal charge of first-degree murder with deliberate intent for killing Duran on the night of Aug. 7, 2012.

He has admitted to sawing the body into a number of parts and attempted to conceal them in the pond.

The defendant now appears to have his day in court set after a hearing Friday in a Garvin County District courtroom.

Hammer and his defense waived his right to the January docket as his jury trial was instead set for April 2014 despite a state prosecutor’s objection.

During this week’s proceeding a pre-trial conference hearing was scheduled for Feb. 24, while all motions in the case, filed by the defense or state, are to be heard by a judge on March 10.

During a preliminary hearing this past 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.

Hammer has remained in Garvin County jail with bond denied in the case.

The case against Hammer was slowed down when his defense attorney, Irven Box of Oklahoma City, withdrew in May on the basis it would be the best thing for his client.

Box stated 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.

He argued a court appointed attorney through the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, also known as O.I.D.S., might be the best way for Hammer to get that suitable defense.

Appointed in July as the new defense attorney was D. Michael Haggerty II of Durant.