Brothers bound over in shooting incident

Becky Campbell • Nov 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Two men charged in a shooting incident earlier this month that didn’t injure anyone were bound over on attempted murder-related charges in Washington County Sessions Court on Monday.

Josh Hammonds, 20, no address available, is accused of firing four shots from a .22-caliber handgun, but he denied to a county deputy that he was anywhere around the area of the incident on the day it supposedly happened.

Hammonds is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly firing shots at Robert Ellis and his uncle, Keith McCrae, around 4:30 p.m. Nov. 9 outside McCrae’s home.

Hammonds’ older brother, Jeffrey Hammons, 27, is charged with accessory after the fact of attempted first-degree murder.

According to Ellis’ testimony, he was walking from his home on Glendale Road to his mother’s at 388 Glendale Road to get a swing set. On the walk, a car drove by, then stopped and backed up.

The passenger, who he identified as Jeffrey Hammonds, got out and began arguing with him and accusing him of “calling the law on them.” Ellis denied doing that, but when Josh Hammonds got out and both brothers came toward him, Ellis said he ran to his mom’s.

The Hammonds brothers left, he said, but drove up to Ellis’ mom’s home about 10 minutes later.

“They were fussing and arguing and I told them to get off my property,” Ellis said.

The brothers returned to their car, he testified, but Josh Hammonds retrieved a handgun and approached him and started shooting. Ellis said Hammonds fire three shots and Ellis turned and ran into a nearby shed.

McCrae testified he saw the whole thing, and after Ellis ran into the shed, Hammonds turned the gun toward him and fired toward his feet, but the bullet hit the ground.

After the shots were fired, the Hammondses left in a black Trans Am. Washington County Deputy John Light testified that he arrested the two the following day after Kingsport police located them there. He also said Kingsport officers found .22-caliber ammunition in the Trans Am.

Defense attorneys Phillip Ratliff for Jeffrey Hammonds and Bill McManus for Josh Hammonds both argued the state had not met the burden required for attempted murder. McManus said the state’s case, at best, showed an aggravated assault or reckless endangerment.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Hays argued the men were in fear and the fact that Josh Hammonds left and returned showed premeditation.

Judge Robert Lincoln bound the case over to a grand jury and ordered the men to appear in Criminal Court Jan. 22.

They were being held on $200,000 bond each, but Lincoln reduced that to $10,000 for Jeffrey Hammonds and $50,000 for Josh Hammonds. Josh Hammonds also faces a violation of probation of several drug convictions.

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