Manslaughter verdict upheld

Published 8:45 am Thursday, January 24, 2013

     The state Court of Appeals has upheld the manslaughter conviction of a Lincoln County man stemming from the 2010 shooting of his girlfriend’s father.

     A Lincoln County jury convicted Andrew Hammond, 24, of manslaughter in 2011, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended and five years of probation.

     Prosecutors had originally indicted and charged Hammond with murder for the shooting death of William “Bubba” Thompson of Bogue Chitto at the residence of Thompson’s daughter, Gena Thompson.

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     Thompson’s family hailed the denial as a vindication of their cause.

     “I feel one step close to justice for my brother,” said Angie Fortin, sister of Hammond’s victim, Thompson.

     Vindication, though, offers only bitter consolation.

     “I have young children at home; their life has been devastated because of Andrew Hammond,” said Stacey Thompson, Thompson’s wife of 27 years at the time of the shooting.

     Family members also remain disappointed at the trial verdict.

     “We feel like it should have been murder instead of manslaughter,” Fortin said. “All the evidence was there.”

     Hammond’s defense attorney Joe Fernald could not be reached for comment.

     At trial, Fernald had claimed the killing was in self-defense, alleging Thompson was angry the night of his death and had on a prior occasion assaulted Hammond.

     On the night of the shooting, Hammond hid in a back bedroom when Thompson entered the house. When Thompson came into the bedroom where Hammond was, he shot Thompson in the side.

     The defense attorney attempted to establish Thompson was lunging at Hammond. Prosecutors counted this with ballistics evidence.

     Hammond’s defense strategy didn’t earn him an acquittal but did allow him to escape a murder conviction.

     Hammond, who was and is married to another woman, had been involved in a relationship with Thompson’s daughter, Gena Thompson.

     Hammond remains married though divorce proceedings are ongoing.

     In his appeal, Hammond claimed the castle doctrine. The castle doctrine allows people to defend themselves in their homes, workplaces or vehicles.

     However, in its ruling, the appeals court said Hammond cannot rely on the castle doctrine “because there is conflicting evidence as to whether Gena (Thompson) let her father into the residence.”

     At trial, there was also conflicting evidence presented as to whether Hammond shared the residence with Gena Thompson or was only a visitor.

     The appeals court also contested Hammond’s claim that the trial verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented.

     Through his continual assertions of self-defense, Fortin said she feels Hammond has not demonstrated “any remorse.”

     She dismisses claims of self-defense.

     “I feel like he ambushed my brother,” Fortin said of Hammond. “My brother was unarmed.”

     Despite the tragedy of his death, Stacey Thompson retains a clear sense of who her husband was.

     “He was a precious person,” she said.