Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley sentenced a Durham man to between seven and 10 years in prison Monday for the 2014 shooting death of another man at a Chapel Hill home.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for several hours over two days before finding Bartholomew Scott, 38, guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Scott fatally shot Chapel Hill resident Lew Hahn “Ron” Hood, 33, on South Christopher Road on May 30, 2014.
In sentencing Scott, Shirley considered two aggravating factors: that he was armed with and used a deadly weapon in Hood’s death. Scott could have faced a maximum sentence of 13 years and 4 months in prison. He will get credit for nearly three years served in the Orange County Jail.
The jury found Scott not guilty on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Jurors had to find Scott acted with malice, premeditation and deliberation to convict him of first-degree murder.
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Scott’s co-defendant Brandon Shamar Townsend, 24, of Durham, awaits trial on the same charges. He remains in the Orange County Jail.
Attorneys for both sides agreed that Scott fatally shot Hood. The only question for the jury was whether Scott acted because Hood was armed and intent on causing trouble, or because Scott conspired with his co-defendant to lie in wait and kill Hood.
Prosecutors claimed Scott shot Hood to end a longstanding conflict between Hood and the home’s owner Scott Campbell. Scott called and sent text messages to Townsend asking him to help ambush Hood, they said, but the plan was complicated when Hood showed up with a fourth man, Gabriel Riggins.
Riggins told police he fled when the shooting started. Scott called 911 to report the shooting. Police found Scott at the scene, and 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, prosecutors said.
Scott’s attorney, Kellie Mannette, had argued that Hood brought both guns 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. Police found casings at the scene but did not find the weapons.
Scott has sought counseling while in jail, Mannette said. She noted that he has a “significant mental health history” but is a talented artist who supported his family through his tattoo business. There has been “remarkable improvement in his thinking” over the last several months, she said.
Mannette plans to appeal the case and advised Scott not to make a statement.
Hood’s mother Mary Smith and his sister Evelyn Poole, who brought containers holding Hood’s ashes to court during the trial, spoke before Scott was sentenced. Scott looked at them as he listened but didn’t show any emotion.
Smith said she doesn’t wish bad luck on Scott but prays this will be a lesson. She recalled how her “baby boy” used to call her every Sunday.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. My child done something wrong, but he didn’t deserve to be taken away fom me that way,” Smith said. “I can never see that smile no more, I can never hear his voice no more, I will never, ever feel his arms no more.”
“I never wanted life for (Scott), because he has a mother, but his mother will get to hold her child, she will get to hear his voice,” Smith said.
Her brother was a loyal, funny and loving man, who trusted the wrong people, Poole said. His death took her peace and left her fighting not to hate Scott, she said.
“All we want you to do is to say that you’re sorry. That’s all that we want,” she said.
Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb