State's case moving forward

Mar. 29, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

During first week one of Jaquareus Holden’s first-degree murder trial, state prosecutors and the defense team have laid out two conflicting versions of events that took place June 15, 2011.

The key witness for the prosecution is Bria White, Holden’s ex-girlfriend, whom Assistant District Attorney Cindy Bostic described in her opening statements as the only eye witness to the murder.

Bostic and Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps are relying on the version of events presented in White’s testimony, which indicated Holden shot his 33-year-old mother Letitia R. Hammond six times almost three years ago this June.

White testified that she was with Holden at his 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson, home on the day his mother was shot.

She said they watched television, had sexual intercourse and smoked marijuana blunts.

When Hammond came home from work while the couple was still there, White said she ran immediately into the back of the house and hid in a closet in Holden’s room. She said she heard six gun shots and moaning.

She said Holden pulled her from the closet and told her they needed to leave the house. She said she saw Hammond lying on her side as they left.

The state has also called Hammond’s boyfriend Timothy Kingsberry and co-worker Charles Watson, who both testified that she was concerned about managing her son’s disobedience.

Kingsberry and Watson testified Hammond sought help from a juvenile court officer, Terry Satterwhite, after Holden starting come home late and missing school.

Kingsberry said the teen was placed under juvenile justice department supervision and an 8 p.m. curfew, which Holden continued to violate.

A State Bureau of Investigation crime lab forensic expert was called by the state this week to explain the gunshot residue kits obtained by the Henderson Police Department.

Michael J. Gurdziel said he examined kits for Kingsberry and Holden, as well as the clothing Holden wore the night of the shooting.

His testimony indicated neither gunshot residue kits were tested because neither sample was collected propertly by Henderson police officers.

Based on his examination, Gurdziel said Holden’s clothes revealed characteristic gunshot residue particles.

During defense attorney Jerry Stainback’s questioning, Gurdziel explained those particles on the clothes could be present if he fired a gun, was in close proximity to a firearm when it was discharged, or came in contact with another object with the particles on them.

“There is no way to determine whether [Holden] fired a gun,” Gurdzeil said.

State prosecutors have tried to link Holden to the .32-caliber handgun used to kill Hammond.

Bostic and Capps introduced pictures on the teenager’s cellphone into evidence that show him posing with a .32-caliber gun.

And Kingsberry’s testimony indicated the gun in the photos was the same as the one he kept beneath his mattress, which was stolen about a week before the shooting.

The gun used to kill Hammond was never found.

Stainback and defense attorney Scott Dennis have tried to cast White as a bad influence on Holden and an unreliable witness.

The defense emphasized Kingsberry’s testimony that the former girlfriend was not allowed at the house alone with Holden.

The defense has suggested White’s testimony against Holden is protecting her from criminal charges. White does not have any pending charges.

After five days of trial, unanswered questions remain about what happened on June 15, 2011, at 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson.

The biggest among these lingering questions: What happened between the time Hammond opened her front door that night and when she was found dead, leaning against the back door of the house?

Even White’s testimony does not indicate how Hammond moved from the front door to the back of the house where White said she was hiding.

Cross-examination of the state witnesses will continue when trial resumes Monday morning.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com