Holden’s former girlfriend testifies against him in murder trial

Mar. 26, 2014 @ 09:23 PM

Emotional testimony from Jaquareus Holden’s ex-girlfriend marked the third day of trial for the 18-year-old charged with killing his mother.

Bria White, 19, broke down in tears as she identified Holden from the witness stand as the man who murdered Letitia Renee Hammond.

White, who lives in Bronx, N.Y., said she moved to Vance County from New York in August 2010 to live with her grandparents in Henderson.

She said she met Holden on the bus ride to Southern Vance High School, which they both attended, and the two started dating in January 2011.

According to her testimony, she was at Hammond’s residence, 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson, the night Hammond was shot six times at her home.

At the time of Hammond’s death, Holden was 15, and White was 16.

She said on June 15, 2011, she arrived at 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson, around noon.

White said she and Holden were alone in the house at that time.

According to her testimony, White knew she was not supposed to be at the home with Holden while his mother was not there.

At the house, she said she and Holden watched television and then had sexual intercourse in his room.

Afterwards, she said Holden walked to the convenience store by himself. Holden returned home with juices and cigarette rolling papers, which they later used to smoke marijuana.

After smoking marijuana, she and Holden continued watching television.

According to White’s testimony, she and Holden heard someone unlocking the front door as they prepared to leave the home.

She said they knew it was his mother at the door since she was the only one with a key.

White said once she heard the door unlocking, she ran into the back of the house and hid in a closet in Holden’s room because she did not want Hammond to know she was there.

According to White’s testimony, she was in the closet for a few minutes before she heard three gunshots in rapid succession. Then she heard Hammond say, “Think of your baby, Bria.”

She said she then heard two or three more gunshots.

At that point, she said Holden grabbed her arm, pulled her from the closet and told her they needed to leave the house.

Before exiting the house, she said Holden took Hammond’s cell phone and tucked a gun into his waistband.

According to her testimony, that was the first time she saw Holden with a gun that day.

She said she saw Hammond lying on her side as they left the home.

From 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson, White said they walked to the home of Holden’s cousin where they continued to smoke marijuana.

During this visit to Holden’s cousin, she said Holden received a call from his younger sister telling him she found their mother dead in their home.

Once he received this phone call, she said she and Holden returned to 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson.

“He just says, ‘Someone shot my mama,’ and he takes off running back to his house,” she said Wednesday.

Officers from the Henderson Police Department interviewed White on June 17, and she said she gave three separate false statements to the police at that time.

According to her testimony Wednesday, she first told the police she did not go to the house until Holden’s sister called.

She then told the officers she went to the house but didn’t go inside.

In her third version of events, she told officers she was in the house but not while Hammond was there.

She said she lied when she testified to the police because she was afraid she would be blamed for Hammond’s death.

“I was scared,” she said Wednesday. “I thought if they knew we were both in the house, they would think we both did it.”

When asked if she and Holden ever talked about his mother’s death, White responded yes.

“But he never got into it; he just said he wished he never did it,” she said Wednesday.

White’s mother, Yvette Manchurian, also a witness for the prosecution, said her daughter told her after the night of the incident that Holden killed his mother.

During defense attorney Jerry Stainback’s cross-examination of Manchurian, she said a Henderson Police Department detective told her that her daughter could be “a witness or a defendant.”

White does not have any pending charges against her.

Charles Watson, a friend of Hammond, also testified on behalf of the prosecution.

He said he and Hammond worked together at Pacific Coast Feather Company, and she drove him home from work on June 15, 2011.

He said she talked about Holden frequently, including the day she died.

“She was concerned about her son because he wasn’t going to school,” he said.

Doyle Carpunky, of Vance County Rescue Squad, and Ashley Morris, of the Henderson Police Department, also testified on behalf of the prosecution.

Carpunky and Morris both responded to the crime scene June 15, 2011. Morris took photographs for evidence of Hammond’s motionless body, as well as bullet casings and smeared blood on the floor around her body.

Cross-examination of Morris will continue today in Vance County Superior Court.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.