Prosecution cites evidence, claim of self-defense in acquittal

Jan. 04, 2014 @ 01:20 PM

A Henderson man charged in the Oct. 26, 2012, death of his older brother was cleared of any wrongdoing by a prosecutor’s determination of self-defense, according to court documents obtained on Thursday.

Days after a July 8 hearing during trial week in Vance County Superior Court conducted by Judge Henry W. Hight, Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps filed dismissal forms clearing 26-year-old Clifton Morris Hammond.

His older brother, 33-year-old Antonio Fitzgerald Hammond, died of blunt force trauma that according to Capps came from a single punch in self-defense. Both men were in room 114 at the Scottish Inns motel at 1759 N. Garnett St.

“After further review, the state determines this killing was in self-defense,” Capps wrote by hand in a document she signed and filed July 18, a week in advance of a Case Management System hearing week in Superior Court.

The hearing for dismissal did not appear on court dockets.

Capps added in writing, “Cocaine and alcohol use on the part of the victim contributed to his death, along with blunt force trauma which from accounts is from one punch from the defendant after the victim pushed and swung at him in the room they both shared.”

The determination came about two weeks after the release of an autopsy report.

Clifton Hammond was cleared of a $1,890 charge arising from the defense of his case, which is routine when a defendant is acquitted, found not to be guilty. A $1,500 expert witness fund is also covered by the state.

Clifton Hammond had been free on a $25,000 bond since Feb. 14, after a prior bond of $100,000 was lowered. He had been jailed since his Oct. 26, 2012, arrest.

According to case and investigative files, Antonio Hammond had “elevated levels” of cocaine and alcohol intoxication at the time of his death. He also suffered from significant but healed prior injuries and medical procedures that included scaring and deformities to the scalp area of his head.

Clifton Hammond admitted striking Antonio Hammond in the face with his fist, and he called their mother after the blow resulted in a loss of consciousness from which the older brother was not recovering.

Their mother called 911 about 20 minutes after the blow to Antonio Hammond, who was transported to Maria Parham Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy report cited “deep neck trauma” as the cause of death.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.