Family: Holden’s grief noticeable

Apr. 01, 2014 @ 09:53 PM

The defense attorneys for Jaquareus Holden began to make their case Tuesday when they called five witnesses to testify that the 18-year-old is not guilty of killing his mother, Letitia Hammond, almost three years ago.

Dorine Kingsberry, Holden's maternal grandmother, said she and her grandson had a good relationship.

She said she observed Holden's behavior begin to change a few months after he started dating Bria White. Her grandson started coming home late and having sex in the home.

She said when her daughter learned about the sexual activity in her home, Hammond instructed White to stay away from the house.

According to her testimony, Holden was crying and shaken after seeing his mother lying in her blood on the night she was murdered.

"He was crying. He was upset. He was shaken," she said.

Kingsberry said Holden ran up to her in a state of shock and disbelief when she arrived on the scene.

Holden's aunt and godmother, Christie Bachelor, described her nephew as a "mama's boy" who had a good relationship with mother. She said he cried at his mother's funeral and in the days following his mother's death.

Holden's pastor, Clarence Dale, corroborated the testimony that Holden grieved and cried after his mother was murdered and during her funeral.

Amanda Bumpus, Hammond's neighbor, also testified as a witness for the defense. She said she saw White and Holden leave 710 S. Carolina Ave. around 2:30-2:45 p.m. on June 15, 2011, while Hammond was not at home. She said they did not return until later that evening.

When asked by prosecutors why she did not mention this to police, Bumpus said she had not been asked.

Shirleen Harris, the last defense witness who testified Tuesday, said she watched Holden with his friends from across the street during the time Hammond was murdered.

Harris, who is Hammond's aunt, said she observed Holden and his friends during the afternoon of June 15, 2011. She said she saw White leave for a few hours and return wearing different clothes.

Prosecutors asked her why she did not tell police what she had seen.

Harris said, "I didn't have no reason to."

The defense will continue to call witnesses today.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.