Holden guilty of murder

Teen sentenced to at least 10 years in prison
Apr. 03, 2014 @ 08:28 PM

Jaquareus “Quez” Holden, 18, was convicted of second-degree murder by a jury Thursday in the shooting death of his mother, Letitia Hammond.

Defense attorney Jerry Stainback gave notice of his client’s intent to appeal the verdict.

Vance County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway handed down a sentence of 125 to 159 months — or nearly 10 1/2 to more than 13 years — in prison.

The jury found Holden not guilty of first-degree murder, which carried a sentence of life in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Cindy Bostic said after the trial there were no real winners.

“We are satisfied with the verdict, but no one won today,” she said.

After the verdict was read, about a dozen of Holden’s family and friends wept and consoled one another in the courtroom gallery.

The teenager was charged with shooting his mother six times on June 15, 2011, in the home they shared at 710 S. Carolina Ave., Henderson.

Before sending the jury to deliberate, Ridgeway gave his instructions and explained the difference between first- and second-degree murder.

First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of a human with malice, premeditation and deliberation, while second-degree murder does not require premeditation or deliberation.

He said jurors could find Holden guilty of first-degree murder if the prosecutors have proven five elements beyond a reasonable doubt: that Holden killed his mother with malice and intent, that Holden’s act was a proximate cause of Hammond’s death, that Holden intended to kill his mother, that Holden acted with premeditation and that Holden acted with deliberation.

In closing arguments, Bostic and Assistant Defense Attorney Allison Capps emphasized testimony from Bria White, Holden’s ex-girlfriend, who said she was in the home with Holden on the day of the murder.

“Jaquareus Holden killed Letitia Hammond; we have the information from Bria,” Capps said. “We have the gunshot residue that is on the clothing of the defendant. ... We have five different explanations as to why he has gunshot residue on the clothing he wore on June 15. The only explanation is that he shot his mom.”

Stainback argued in his closing his client could not be linked to the murder simply because the gun was in his possession.

“The fact that Holden held the gun does not mean he used the gun,” he said.

Stainback diminished White’s testimony and rebuked the Henderson Police Department for what he described as a shoddy investigation following the murder.

“You ought to have a reasonable doubt about the way this investigation was handled,” he said. “The state is trying to convict a 15-year-old boy of killing his mama just so they could close the case.”

Holden was 15 years old at the time of the shooting.

He repeated a statement made by one of the Henderson police officers, who told White she could be a witness or a defendant in this case.

“Call on your reason and common sense and ask what it means to be told, ‘You can be a witness or a defendant,’ ” Stainback said.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.