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Appeal Rejected for Man Convicted of Killing His Own Grandmother

18-May-2015

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction of a Bartlesville man who beat his grandmother to death with a baseball bat.

Brandon William Capps was only 20 years old when he was arrested for the Halloween 2012 murder of his 81-year-old grandmother, Clara Jean Hammer. The woman's body was discovered by neighbors, who told police that the woman's car was also missing. Investigators spotted the woman's vehicle at a nearby apartment complex, and Capps was soon arrested for her murder. When questioned by police he told investigators that he had been huffing canned air and gasoline prior to his grandmother's death. He said he flew into a rage, but that he blacked out and did not remember hitting her or beating her to death.

At trial, Capps's defense argued that he did not intend to kill his grandmother. However, a jury disagreed and convicted Capps of first degree murder and related crimes including unauthorized use of a vehicle, driving without a license, petit larceny, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. At the jury's recommendation, a Washington County judge sentenced Capps to life in prison.

Capps appealed the conviction, claiming that he was wrongfully not allowed to provide evidence of his lack of intent to commit murder. He also claimed the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury about lesser charges, including first degree manslaughter and second degree murder. Other grounds for his appeal included improper victims' impact statements, the admission of prejudicial evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

Last week, on Capps's 23rd birthday, the appeals court rejected his appeal and affirmed the man's conviction and life sentence. He will not be eligible for parole for another 35 years.

Hammer's murder also led to fraud allegations against her daughter, Tami Capps, the mother of Brandon Capps. After Hammer was killed, investigators alleged that Tami Capps had defrauded her mother out of more than $10,000 by making unauthorized charges to the victim's credit card in the amount of $3642.31 and running up a phone bill totaling more than $6,000. Court records do not indicate that she was ever charged in that case. 

Washington County court records indicate a troubled financial history for Hammer's daughter, showing numerous loan default judgments and felony bogus check charges in a 2011 case. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the bogus check charges in return for payment of court costs and restitution in the amount of $1,302.56. Court records show that she has not yet paid restitution in full.



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