Attorneys agreed Friday that Bartholomew Scott fatally shot Lew Hahn Hood at a Chapel Hill house on May 30, 2014.
The only question for the jury is whether Scott acted because Hood was armed and intent on causing trouble, or because Scott conspired with his co-defendant to lay in wait at 102 S. Christopher Road and kill Hood.
This trial “is not about whether Lew ‘Ron’ Hood was bad person,” Orange County Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor said.
“It’s about what this defendant Bartholomew Scott … did acting in concert with the masked man that evidence shows was Brandon Townsend … on May 30, 2014, in the murder of Lew ‘Ron’ Hood and the attempt to murder Gabriel Riggins,” he said.
Scott, 38, and Brandon Shamar Townsend, 24, both of Durham, are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in the death of Hood, 33, of Chapel Hill.
They also are charged with the attempted first-degree murder of Hood’s companion, Riggins, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill Riggins.
Townsend remains in jail awaiting trial.
The jury began its deliberations Friday afternoon in the nearly two-week case against Scott.
Prosecutors, in closing arguments Friday, said the incident started around 10:30 a.m. May 30 when Hood arrived at the house, where Scott was staying and doing work for owner Scott Campbell.
Hood was angry about a long-simmering argument with Campbell over money, they said, and Scott said he would set up a meeting between the men.
However, Campbell was out of town, and prosecutors presented text messages that show Scott asking someone identified as Townsend to come to the house and go upstairs, presumably where a handgun was waiting.
Scott planned to kill Hood as a way to solve the problem for Campbell, who was helping him out, Proctor said.
Hood picked up Riggins before returning to the house, prosecutors said. Riggins testified that he told Hood to leave his handgun in the car. They went in the house, where Hood saw a masked gunman coming down the stairs, Assistant District Attorney Anna Orr said. The man pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed, she said, and Riggins ran and hid, escaping through a window after hearing more shots and Hood screaming.
Scott’s attorney, Kellie Mannette, argued that Hood brought a shotgun and handgun to the house that day. Scott grabbed the shotgun – which Hood had put on the kitchen counter – to defend himself from Hood, who had the handgun, she said.
Scott told police he put both guns on the counter after shooting Hood. Police found casings at the scene but did not find the weapons.
They found Hood’s body in the driveway, about 30 feet from the house, with multiple wounds from a shotgun and a 9mm handgun. The fatal wound was to the head from the shotgun, Proctor said.
It doesn’t make sense that Hood would bring in a shotgun and another gun if he had already left a gun in the glovebox, Proctor said.
‘Man on mission’
Scott told 911 he might have shot someone and was afraid the second man was still in the house. Police only found Scott, with Hood’s blood on his clothing.
Riggins got a ride with his girlfriend, and after a short time, went to the Chapel Hill Police Department. Mannette questioned the time lapse before Riggins contacted police, especially since his friend was shot.
Riggins “was a man on a mission,” she said. “Mr. Riggins needed to get rid of his gun. He’s a man on probation, he’s a convicted felon, he has a prison sentence hanging over his head, and he wasn’t going to police.”
Mannette also questioned the mask, which she said didn’t make sense if they were going to kill Hood, and the gunshot residue evidence, which was submitted to additional testing even though the first test didn’t meet the normal threshold for another test.
Scott later told police that he didn’t shoot anyone, but prosecutors offered text messages sent during his interview that show otherwise. Scott also told police that Hood was not armed when he came to the house, Orr said.
Scott got confused because he was terrified and nervous, Mannette said. His text messages – before and after the shooting – were taken out of context, she said.
“This 911 call is the best, most reliable evidence you have in front of you,” Mannette said. “This 911 call shows that Bart’s only intention was to protect himself. He’s confused, he’s disoriented, because he’s still so focused on making sure that he stays safe.”
This is not a case of self-defense, Proctor told the jury, contending Scott panicked because they didn’t expect Riggins and because he got away.
“The defendant’s conflicting statements began at the scene. Immediately, his story about what happened that morning is at odds with the story he tried to spin in the 911 call,” Orr said. “The defendant panicked because Mr. Riggins had escaped, and he had to come up with a story to explain why Mr. Hood was dead in his driveway.”
“The defendant had to get to police with his story before Mr. Riggins could tell police what really happened,” she said.