Testimony continues in Ocean Boulevard murder trial

Conway, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The murder trial of Brian Spears continued in a Conway courtroom Wednesday as the victim's sister took the stand.

Spears, 23, of Lumberton, NC, is accused of shooting four people in Myrtle Beach in the early morning hours of May 27, 2007. Three of those people survived, but 22-year-old Aaron Hammonds, also of Lumberton, died from injuries sustained in the incident.

Police said Spears and some of his friends came to Myrtle Beach for the Memorial Day Bike Rally and ran into another group of young men they did not like on Ocean Boulevard near 11th Avenue North. That other group included Hammonds.

Prosecutors believe Spears shot and killed Hammonds as retaliation for a previous crime. Hammonds was convicted and served jail time in connection to the 2004 murder of Eric Floyd, a friend of Spears.

Assistant Solicitor Donna Elder called Hammonds' sister to the stand Wednesday to describe the ongoing feud between the two men.

Danielle Hammonds said Spears had tried to shoot her brother in a parking lot in April 2007. She said the bullet only grazed her brother's shoulder.

"[My brother] was like 'I was at Wal-Mart, and I was getting shot at,' and I was like, 'Well who shot you?' and he said 'Boss,'" Hammonds said in testimony.

"Boss" was a common street or gang name for Spears.

Elder asked other questions of Hammonds that advanced the prosecution's theory that Spears used the meeting in Myrtle Beach as an opportunity for revenge.

Hammonds said the two men were members of rival gangs in Lumberton, but the defense downplayed that explanation during cross examination. Defense attorney Barbara Pratt's questions raised doubts about the strict alliances associated with the gangs in Lumberton.

Elder also called Nathaniel Douglas to the stand. Douglas also faces charges in connection to the murder of Hammonds, but Elder used his testimony to explain her accusation that Spears had a gun when the shooting happened.

"Where did he have his gun?" Elder asked.

"On his waist side," answered Douglas.

"Tell me how it was placed on him."

"In his belt, on the side."

"Was it in a holster?"

"No ma'am, in his belt."

Late in the day, Myrtle Beach Police investigator Mike Hull also shared song lyrics Spears wrote that prosecutors believe are basically like confessions.

Tim Smith also took the stand and pointed the finger at Spears, his former cellmate. Smith said Spears made comments about shooting Hammonds. However, Pratt questioned Smith's motivation, pointing out that Smith has signed a deal with the prosecutor's office.

The defense has claimed Jeff Bethea, a friend of Spears who is also facing charges in this case, was the trigger man.

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