A Durham man got four to six years in prison Wednesday for a guilty plea in the fatal shooting of a Chapel Hill man in 2014.
Brandon Shamar Townsend, 24, and his co-defendent, Bartholomew Scott, 38, were accused of fatally shooting Lew Hahn “Ron” Hood, 33, at 102 S. Christopher Road in Chapel Hill on May 30, 2014.
Townsend took an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter Wednesday, which allows him to accept the consequences of pleading guilty without admitting guilt. His other charges were dismissed, and he will get credit for three years served in the Orange County Jail awaiting trial.
An Orange County Superior Court jury found Scott guilty of voluntary manslaughter on May 22. Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley sentenced Scott to seven to 10 years in prison, and also ordered Scott and Townsend to pay Hood’s family $3,000 toward his funeral costs.
Orange County Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor recounted how Hood went to the house that morning, and Scott asked him to come back later for an arranged meeting with the owner. Witnesses have testified that Hood and the owner, who was not there that day, had a longstanding conflict.
Scott sent text messages to Townsend asking him to help ambush Hood, Proctor said, but the plan was complicated when Hood showed up with a friend, Gabriel Riggins. Riggins told police he fled the house when a masked man descended the stairs with a 9mm handgun.
The defense and prosecution agreed Scott, who called 911 to report the shooting, fired on Hood with a shotgun. 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 to the head was from a shotgun.
Proctor said circumstantial evidence points to Townsend as the masked gunman who shot Hood with the handgun. He argued that Townsend fled after the shooting and took the weapons, which were never recovered. Townsend was arrested a few days later in a red pickup truck that Riggins said was at the scene.
Several members of Hood’s family attended Scott’s trial, but his sister Evelyn Poole was alone at Townsend’s hearing. Her brother’s death broke her heart, she said, and still affects the family. It was hard to find the strength to tell her mother, her son and siblings that “our gem was stolen,” she said.
She promised her brother that she would find justice for him, Poole said.
“I feel as if I failed him, but I have to believe I did my best,” she said. “That failure came the day that two heartless individuals took his life. If you are seeking forgiveness, I suggest you look within yourself, because it is not coming from my family.”
Townsend did not show any emotions as Poole spoke, but he quietly conferred with defense attorney Emilia Beskind when she finished.
“Your honor, Mr. Townsend never made any statements regarding this case,” Beskind said. “This is the first time he’s said anything, at least through me, and Ms. Poole’s words were incredibly moving. Whether or not there is forgiveness, he would like you to know how sorry he is for your loss.”
“Can he tell me that?” Poole interrupted. Townsend continued to look straight ahead and did not respond.