OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma man who allegedly killed and dismembered his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend acted in self-defense, his attorney said Friday.
Justin Hammer, 30, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the Aug. 7 death of Brandon Duran, 32, whose body parts were put in cement-filled buckets that were thrown into a pond in Elmore City.
Defense attorney Irven Box said after a brief hearing Friday in Garvin County District Court that Hammer shot Duran after Duran forced his way into Hammer's home.
“Justin's claim is one of self-defense,” Box said. “He (Hammer) had to defend himself after (Duran) threatened him; Justin shot him to protect himself.
“The facts after the shooting are pretty heinous, but the facts before that are not,” Box said.
Court documents say Hammer said he cut up Duran's body to dispose of it because he panicked after the shooting.
Prosecutors did not immediately return phone calls for comment. District Attorney Greg Mashburn said previously that he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Authorities found Duran's body Aug. 10 in the buckets in a pond on Hammer's property, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Duran's body was sent to the state medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death, which had not been determined, a spokesman for the agency said Friday.
The bureau began searching for the body after a witness told authorities that Hammer said he shot Duran, cut up the body with a saw and placed the parts into numerous 5-gallon buckets that he then filled with cement.
There is no indication that the slaying is connected to the highly publicized death and dismemberment of Carina Saunders, 19, whose body was found in a duffel bag in Bethany, according to OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown.
Bethany police have said they suspect Saunders' slaying was connected to a human trafficking, prostitution and drug ring in the Oklahoma City area.
Elmore City is in rural Garvin County, about 65 miles south of Oklahoma City.
Hammer remains in the Garvin County jail without bond, Box said. His next court date is Sept. 7.