By Bonnie Seymour
News Star Reporter
Van Robert Emblom returned to the stand for the beginning of cross-examination Thursday, July 3 in the State’s case against Justin Lee Hammer.
Hammer is being charged with the first degree murder of Brandon Duran.
Michael Haggerty, defense attorney for Hammer, had a line of questioning that focused predominately on Emblom’s credibility as a witness, Hammer’s gun collection, and Emblom’s recent departure from his job with Bobby Hammer, Justin’s father.
Haggerty questioned some alleged inconsistencies in Emblom’s testimony given Wednesday, July 2, the first day of the trial, and testimony given during a pretrial hearing in February of 2013.
Multiple times Emblom was asked if he has been truthful throughout past statements and testimony he had given and multiple times Emblom stood by the fact that he had.
“I have been trying to be truthful at all times,” said Emblom.
Emblom had testified the day before that Justin Hammer had told him that he had asked Duran “how do you want it?” before allegedly shooting Duran with the first of four gunshot wounds Duran would receive to the head and face.
Haggerty questioned this statement as it was not mentioned at the February 2013 pretrial hearing and there were no other records of Emblom reporting that information to authorities until the current trial.
According to a statement that Emblom made to OSBI Agent Marvin Akres on August 8, 2012 Hammer used a 410 shotgun for the crime. At the time of his current testimony Emblom could not recall the type of shotgun, just that it was a shotgun.
Emblom’s employment with Bobby Hammer on a ranch owned by him also came into play as the incident that lead to him leaving the job was brought into question.
On March 12, 2013 Emblom brought a .357 pistol with him to work and as a result of that Bobby Hammer called the authorities.
“I had it for protection. I was afraid,” said Emblom.
A large animal syringe was also found on Emblom’s person at that time and was filled with penicillin that Emblom said was for a dog that had gotten in a fight.
No charges were ever pressed and Emblom quit working at the ranch that day.
On re-direct, Emblom told the court that the reason why he had not previously left his job working for Hammer’s father was because he had respect for him and what had possibly happened with this son had no bearing on his employment.
Prosecutor Jennifer Austin again asked if it was hard for Emblom to testify against Justin Hammer and Emblom replied, “I spent more time with him than I did my real brother. I spent more time with him than I did anyone.”
Next on the stand was William Welch, the uncle of Justin Hammer and the person that Hammer allegedly called on August 8, 2012 to have him get rid of a motorcycle that had been chopped into three pieces.
Welch stated that he arrived at the Hammer’s home in Elmore City around 3:45 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. the day he received the call.
“[Justin] said he had a cycle he wanted hauled off,” said Welch.
Welch did find this odd as he had never known Hammer to be a rider of motorcycles but Welch went to the house anyway because he wanted to see what was going on.
Welch testified that Hammer told him that the bike had been cut up when someone had caught their significant other “messing around,” a statement that differed from what he had said at the February pretrial hearing where he testified that Hammer said that some people had chopped up the bike and planned on reporting it stolen.
When asked about the inconsistency, Welch stated that he had been told both things by Hammer.
The day of August 8, 2012, Welch did take the motorcycle with him and proceeded to take it home and put it in a pallet in his chicken coop.
Welch said he kept the bike because it “seemed to new”.
Akers, who left the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation on October 31, 2012 and was the lead detective on the case against Hammer until that time, was the next to take the stand.
Akers testified he received a call that there was a “potential dead person” in Garvin County and there was someone that he needed to talk to, that person being Emblom.
After an interview that lasted approximately two hours it was decided that Akers should get a search warrant issued for the home of Hammer.
Around midnight on August 8, 2012 when the search warrant was executed, Akers stated that upon entering the residences he spotted what he believed to be blood on the loveseat, the metal threshold of the entry way, and other places throughout the house though one thing did surprise Akers about the amount of blood found.
“I thought there would be a lot more,” Akers stated.
Also found at that time in one of the burn barrels on the property were a pair of jeans, towels, underwear, a blue tarp, cowboy boots, and the package from a concrete mix; all partially burned.
In the Hammer’s gun safe a 410 shotgun and a 22 caliber pistol were found, both of the weapons believed to be used on Duran as well as orange latex gloves with a black residue, and two used reciprocating saw blades.
All evidence was taken to an OSBI lab in Edmond.
Akers then testified that Bobby Hammer, who owned the house and land that his son lived on, gave permission for the pond where the five buckets and a dog crate containing Duran’s remains were found to be searched on August 9, 2012.
According to Akers, searching the pond proved difficult even after draining it with an excavator and a dive team from Carter County was called in.
“As the pond was being drained the buckets would get pulled down into the mud and it was making them very hard to get to,” said Akers.
The search teams also used pallets to make a walkway on to the unstable ground to retrieve the buckets and dog crate.
In his testimony Akers also said the night of August 8, 2012 and day of August 9, 2012 weren’t the only times he returned to the property owned by the Hammers.
He was contacted on three other occasions by Bobby Hammer to come and collect items that Bobby believed could be evidence such as skill saw, two 22 casings, a towel, a metal plate possibly used for a motorcycle plate, and a used bottle of Twangers lemon lime salt that contained a sticky license plate backing that Akers believed could have been issued by the state of California, the state where Duran lived.
On cross-examination Haggerty again brought up the Banditos motorcycle club as Akers has a history of “gathering intelligence” on motorcycle gangs.
Akers said in his testimony that he did not know Duran to be a member of the organization but did know that he associated with some members.
Haggerty also questioned Akers on his communications with Emblom.
Akers testified that he had spoken to him on numerous undocumented occasions when Emblom would call him.
“More or less, I was trying to keep him calm,” said Akers.
“If I wrote a report every time I talked to [Emblom] there would be a substantial amount of reports.”
Though Akers left the stand, he has not been released and can still be called back for testimony.
Bradly Knight, an OSBI Crime Scene Investigator also took the stand Thursday, testifying about the scene he came upon when he arrived at the pond on the Hammer property August 9, 2012.
Knight’s testimony echoed that of Akers when it came to the scene that day but did give new details to as to how the five buckets containing Duran’s remains had been sealed.
“The buckets were sealed with their plastic seal but they also had drywall screws to secure them,” Knight stated.
According to Knight, each bucket had three to five of these screws.
Knight also shared that a cinderblock had been tied to the dog crate containing the torso of Duran, which had been cut in half at the belly button.
During Knight’s testimony, photos were shown of the five buckets and dog crate once they were fished from the pond.
Ace Hardware Manager John Law III was next on the stand, testifying that Hammer had in fact bought merchandise from his store the day before and the day of the crime and also shared that Justin Hammer used his Ace Rewards Card when he made the purchases.
“When someone uses their Reward Card for a purchase, their name, address, and phone number come up,” said Law.
At 8:05 on August 6, 2012 Justin Hammer bought ten eighty pound bags of ready mix concrete, five five-gallon buckets, and five lids for those buckets and paid with $80.00 cash.
The next day, August 7, 2012 at 12:06 Justin Hammer came back to the store and purchased large latex stripping gloves and a 96-ounce container of Clorox bleach, again paying with cash.
The clerk who checked out Justin Hammer on both occasions, Jessica Wimberly, testified that Hammer seemed normal on one of those trips, chatting with Wimberly about tattoos, and rushed on the other.
Footage from security cameras from those two days was entered into evidence but have yet to be viewed in the courtroom.
The trial of Justin Hammer is set to continue Monday, July 7 at 8:30 a.m.