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Jury returns manslaughter verdict

A Lincoln County man on trial for murder was found guilty ofmanslaughter Wednesday night at the conclusion of a two-day trialin circuit court.

After roughly two and one-half hours of deliberation, the jurywas unconvinced of the state’s murder argument that 22-year-oldAndrew Hammond laid in wait to strike down his girlfriend’s father,45-year-old William “Bubba” Thompson, on March 12, 2010, at herresidence.

But the body of 12 also rejected the defendant’s plea ofself-defense, deciding the killing was wrong but not deliberate andchoosing the middle charge of manslaughter.

Sentencing will be held Friday at 10 a.m. The charge carries amaximum sentence of 20 years in prison – a lengthy term that leavesboth sides wanting.

“I’m somewhat disappointed,” said Stacy Thompson, wife of thedeceased. “I wanted (Hammond) to be sentenced to life because Bubbais in the cemetery, and he’s sentenced there for life.”

A murder conviction would have left Hammond facing thepossibility of life in prison.

Defense attorney Joe Fernald also disagreed with the jury,calling Thompson’s shooting death a “clear case ofself-defense.”

“But somebody died. When someone has been killed, the jury isfaced with a difficult problem,” he said.

For two days, the trial hinged on Hammond’s residency andwhether or not the home of his girlfriend, 22-year-old GenaThompson, at 2254 Harbor Lane in Bogue Chitto, was his todefend.

Hammond was there that Friday night when Bubba Thompson – whoprotested Hammond’s relationship with his daughter and previouslyused his fists to make the point – arrived to inspect the home.Hammond hid in the master bedroom and killed Thompson with a singleshot from his .40 caliber Glock 23 when he came down the hall.

The defense leaned on Gena Thompson’s testimony that Hammondlived with her at the home for four months, moved in somepossessions and helped pay the bills.

The counsel also highlighted the altercation between thedefendant and deceased on Nov. 12, 2009, when Bubba Thompson stakedout and jumped Hammond in the dark outside the home. The severityof the fight was disputed.

But the prosecution struck back with a pair of documents Hammondfilled out listing his address as 677 Virginia Ave., his parents’home. One document was a set of employment papers from Herring GasCo. in late 2009, and the other document was the firearmsapplication he filled out to purchase the pistol at Reliable Armson Feb. 18, 2010 – three weeks before the shooting.

The case’s critical moment may have come when Assistant DistrictAttorney Diane Jones compelled Chris Hammond, the defendant’sfather, to testify all the information on the firearms applicationwas correct.

“Drew Hammond may very well have been a guest of Gena, but hedid not live there,” Jones said in her closing argument.

Jones submitted to the jury that Hammond hid in the back bedroomand took clear aim at Bubba Thompson as he approached down thehall. She used the path of the fatal bullet, which entered thedeceased’s right flank at 10 degrees down-angle and cut through hisbody from right to left, to show he was either turning to flee orentering a sideroom when the shot was fired.

“(Hammond’s) pride as a young man was hurt, he was angry aboutthis interference in his adulterous relationship and he wanted tobe where he wanted to be,” Jones argued. “He may not have knownthat night was his opportunity, but he came prepared.”

The defense also used the bullet’s path in closing arguments andwent back to Bubba Thompson’s previous attack on Hammond on Nov.12, stating the altercation gave the defendant reason to fear forhis personal safety.

Fernald argued the bullet’s path relative to Hammond’s positionin the back corner of the bedroom meant the deceased was lungingthrough the door to get at the defendant when the fatal shot wasfired.

“(Bubba Thompson) wasn’t just walking down the hall. He had hisarm up, and he meant business,” Fernald said. “He decided he wasgoing to go in there and commit a felony or do bodily harm. Whatelse was he going to do? He wasn’t there for anything other than tosettle something.”