By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — Testimony concluded Thursday morning in the capital murder trial of Bryan Hancock.
The stepfather of Hancock, Steven Chapman took the stand for the defense. Although Hancock’s mother and Chapman divorced in 2017, Chapman stayed active in his life and called himself “Bryan’s father.”
“Pretty much Bryan went where I went,” said Chapman.
Chapman said Hancock would never say the “N-word” as he has been accused of saying before he shot and killed Randy Young.
“It didn’t have to be taught in the household,” said Chapman. “He was in an interracial household.”
On cross-examination, the prosecution asked Chapman if he could recognize that sometimes, despite a parent’s best effort, a child can do things the parents think they would never do.
Earlier in the week, during opening statements, the prosecution called the death unnecessary, unreasonable, and unjustified. They said the victim was called “the N-word” by the defendant, which caused him to get upset. They said Young punched Hancock in the face while Hancock was sitting in the truck. Hancock, they claim, responded by shooting Young.
Bryan Hancock announced his decision Thursday to not take the stand. The defense rested its case at 10:26 a.m.
Hancock, 24, of Pinson, is accused in the 2019 shooting death of Randy Young in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel, in Trussville. Young was shot in the head in the parking lot of the restaurant after a dispute over parking, according to both the prosecution and the defense. Young died after being on life support for two days.
The stepfather of Young has claimed that Hancock used the N-word during the dispute.
During closing arguments, Prosecutor Deborah Danneman once again showed the surveillance video of the shooting. Danneman walked the jury through every move all of the parties made on that night of March 28, 2019. She explained that at the time the truck the defendant was a passenger in pulled in the parking lot, the suspect was inside placing a to-go order to take to his mother, who was waiting at home. After the driver of the truck ignores a request from the victim’s stepfather to move the truck, the prosecution said an altercation between the victim and the suspect led to the shooting death of Randy Young.
“Mr. Shephard, who was the only witness that came in here and testified that, said his son said, ‘If you call me the N-word again, I will pull you out of that car and beat your ass,” Danneman said.
The prosecutor then spoke as the video showed the shooting. Danneman said inconsistent accounts of what happened were likely due to the fact that police wrote reports several hours after the shooting. She said Shepard told the truth on the night of the shooting and on the stand during the trial.
In claiming self-defense, Danneman said Hancock does not have a case. She pointed to Hancock and said, “This defendant was never in any fear of death that night.” She said Hancock cannot claim self-defense because he provoked the victim then escalated the situation by calling the victim the N-word.
“This shooting was absolutely unnecessary,” said Danneman. “And when it’s unnecessary, it is not self-defense.”
Danneman reminded the jury that no weapon was ever found to be in possession of the victim.
“The only person armed with a gun that night was this defendant,” she said.
The state must prove “a real and specific intent to kill”. Intent was formed right before the crime happened, Danneman said.
“If a shot to the head isn’t a real and specific threat, I don’t know what is,” she continued.
Once again, Danneman called the shooting unnecessary, unreasonable and unjustified.
Possible charges for the jury to consider are capital murder, reckless manslaughter and provocation manslaughter.
The defense said, in closing arguments, that Hancock also suffered that night. He continued his argument for self-defense saying Hancock was intoxicated on narcotics. He said he was so intoxicated that he couldn’t have formed a real intent to kill. He said his client was in acting from fear.
“Threats of violence followed by an overt act,” said Hanle. “That, in this case, is the punch to the face.”
Hanle said the video of the shooting tells a story of a man who was sitting alone in a truck when he was confronted by an angry man. He said Hancock didn’t know why the man was screaming at him.
The defense attorney continued by saying that Young’s stepfather’s testimony and statements to police were untrue. He said he found issues with details that Robert Shepard offered including how far the gun was from Young’s head and his claim that he actually saw the shooting of his stepson.
The defense said the prosecution has not proven that capital murder took place that night.
“Bryan Hancock does not bear the burden of proving that he acted in self-defense, the state has the burden of proving that he didn’t act in self-defense,” Hanle continued.
After a lunch break, Judge Clyde Jones charged the jury.
Hancock is considered innocent until proven guilty and he has pleaded not guilty.