Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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June 26, 2014

Security to be tight for trial

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Security at Garvin County’s courthouse will be much tighter starting next week as a high profile murder trial is scheduled to get underway.

In fact, it’s a special jury docket just for the trial of Justin Hammer, 32, who is accused of brutally murdering Brandon Duran in the summer of 2012 and then attempting to dispose of his body, cut into parts, in a pond on Hammer’s own property near Elmore City.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes has announced his office will be taking extra security measures for the trial, which has jury selection set to get started on Monday, June 30.

One member of Rhodes’ staff, Capt. Travis Crawford, says the beefed security is really done for all murder trials conducted in Garvin County District Court.

“We’re trying to ensure the public safety,” Crawford said.

“It’s something we always do for homicide trials,” he said.

“I think the sheriff just wants the public to know there will be a few changes at the courthouse during this trial.”

In a released statement Rhodes said the procedures being put in place are simply “added layers of security during the upcoming trial docket.”

One measure includes additional deputies being positioned throughout the courthouse and inside the courtroom during the course of the trial, which could stretch out two or three weeks.

Anyone coming to the courthouse during the trial will be screened as bags or large items will searched.

Part of that includes an electronic wanding and visual search of visitors.

“There will be few exceptions to the screening and search process,” Rhodes stated.

Entry into the courthouse will be limited as the east, west and south doors will be open. Doors to the annex will be closed.

The sheriff says any visitors requiring assistance into the courthouse should contact his office for access and escort to all public areas of the building.

Visitors will be rescreened each time they enter the courthouse.

They should also be warned only a limited number of items will be allowed into the courthouse.

As for the courtroom holding Hammer’s murder trial, no cell phones or other electronic devices will be allowed inside.

During trial days visitors to the courthouse’s third floor will be asked to refrain from unnecessary noise in the hallways.

Topping off the list regular inmate visitation at the county jail on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be canceled during the duration of the jury docket.

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