Crime

Bradenton murder suspect says victim shot himself. That’s not possible, says medical examiner

Medical Examiner testifies there was no way Donald Hammond shot himself

The chief medical examiner testified Tuesday that there was no way Donald Hammond could have shot himself, contradicting one of the explanations that Bradenton man charged with killing him gave a deputy.
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The chief medical examiner testified Tuesday that there was no way Donald Hammond could have shot himself, contradicting one of the explanations that Bradenton man charged with killing him gave a deputy.

The chief medical examiner testified Tuesday that there was no way Donald Hammond could have shot himself, contradicting one of the explanations that Bradenton man charged with killing him gave a deputy.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 15, 2017, Albert Knowles went to get his neighbor, an off-duty Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy, and told him there was an emergency at his house. The deputy arrived to find Hammond dead on the couch, and called Bradenton police.

Knowles first told that deputy that Hammond had shot himself, but later said that victim had shot at him, the deputy testified. A second gun found at the scene was never fired, however, according to police.

Knowles, 32, is charged with second-degree murder in Hammond’s death. The trial got underway on Monday and is expected to go to the jury on Wednesday.

Knowles is expected to take the stand on Wednesday.

Assistant State Attorney Rebecca Freel questioned Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega on Tuesday afternoon about Hammond’s three gunshot wounds. Vega said there was no way that the victim could have inflicted the wounds on himself.

Vega also testified that it was his opinion that a knife along with a piece of paper towel found in Hammond’s hand were placed there after his death. Hammond had been shot once in the index finger of the same hand the knife and paper towel were found. But Assistant Public Defender Anne Hunter noted that Vega didn’t not know anything about the victim’s flexibility or grip capability, prior to his death.

“It would have been impossible to receive that gunshot wound to the finger while still holding the knife,” Vega said.

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