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Experts approved for defense in tree farm killings

The judge in the capital case of Freddie Hammer granted motions for experts to test the prosecution’s evidence and to evaluate the defendant.

Hammer faces five capital murder charges and 11 other felonies in connection with the 2008 killings of the owner of a Grayson County Christmas tree farm, the owner’s son and a farm employee, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

The evidence in question is paint particles on a hand truck that was found outside of Hammer’s residence during the investigation. Prosecutors believe the paint came from the bottom of a safe in the murder victim’s garage. Hammer had tried to load the safe onto his truck, authorities claimed, but then managed to key in and take the money while leaving the safe behind.

The Virginia Capital Defender’s office, who is representing Hammer, asked Judge Brett Geisler to hire an expert in paint analysis.

Geisler granted the request over the prosecution’s objection. The order will allow the defense to hire a consultant for up to eight hours at $250 an hour.

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