Local News

Man released from jail in Durham homicide arrested for Chapel Hill killing

Posted June 18, 2014

Brandon Shamar Townsend

— A Durham man arrested Wednesday for a fatal Chapel Hill shooting last month was released from jail just weeks before the killing because he had awaited trial for nearly two years.

Brandon Shamar Townsend, 21, of Varina Drive, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force. He was transported to the Orange County jail where he is being held without bond on first-degree and attempted first-degree murder charges.

Townsend's latest charges stem from a May 30 shooting at 102 Christopher Road in Chapel Hill. Officers responded to the home regarding a reported break-in and found Lewhahn Hood, 33, dead from several gunshot wounds.

Bartholomew Romidas Scott, 35, was arrested on May 30 and also charged with first-degree murder in the shooting. He remains in the Orange County jail.

Police have released few details in the case, other than saying neither Hood nor Scott lived at the Christopher Road residence.

Courtney Cox, who lives near the home, described the area as quiet but heard arguing coming from the home on the day of the shooting.

"There was some guys over there, a little bit of commotion, and then we just got up and went on our way," she said.

The Chapel Hill homicide occurred about a month after Townsend was released from the Durham County jail. Townsend was awaiting trial for the May 10, 2011 death of Shakanah China. The 13-year-old was playing outside an Atka Court apartment complex when shots were fired from a passing van. Shakanah was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Townsend's attorneys argued he wasn't in the area when the girl was shot. Prosecutors delayed his trial while awaiting DNA evidence to be tested by the backlogged State Crime Lab. The district attorney's office eventually dismissed the case due to a violation of Townsend's right to a speedy trial.

Townsend's release and rearrest was shocking news to Evelyn Poole, Hood's sister.

"When I saw that he was released in April and served that time, I immediately felt like 'oh my gosh,'" she said. "If that was my child how would I feel that the person I assume that killed her was released. I look at it like you were released in April and you're free and my brother dies a month later. That makes me sick to my stomach.”

Poole hopes Shakanah's family receives some sort of closure.

"I hate this for this child and I hope that family gets their own justice as well," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 19, 2014

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    I know after serving as a juror in Durham County that there's not much justice in the "justice" system for victims anymore.

  • Kim Plucker Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Too many people are getting off for crimes in Durham due to not having a speedy trial. I happen to know for a FACT that it has little to do with the state crime lab.

  • disgusted2010 Jun 19, 2014

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    Ask Roy Cooper, he's in charge of the lab.

  • disgusted2010 Jun 19, 2014

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    Pot, meet kettle.

  • miseem Jun 19, 2014

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    But at least the NCGA was able to cut our taxes. Having those rich folks save a few thousand and the middle class saving enough for a cheeseburger clearly makes up for a few messed up murder trials.

  • Eric Rothman Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    This goes for any crime (Murder, etc). If a judge, lawyer, etc lets/gets a criminal out of jail and he commits another crime, the Judge/lawyer should be held as an accessory to the crime. How many kids, women, men, etc have been killed, rapped or molested by repeat offenders that should have never been let out of jail. WHEN IS THIS GOING TO STOP. Nothing ever changes. When are we, as a country going to demand more and say this is UNACCEPABLE!!!

  • for the people Jun 19, 2014

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    i am neither a right wing nut or a bigot and can see the link, clearly. the reverand is much more intersted in tv face time and should be in the community trying to actually solve problems.

  • sabsco Jun 19, 2014

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    I've read some nutty things in the WRAL comments section but this is the nuttiest by far. Your moniker is apt.

  • Bob Smith Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Thank you WRAL for doing some basic investigative reporting! Our state crime lab does not have the resources to test DNA on the killer of a 13 year old child??? Something is wrong here - something is definitely wrong. Where are the politicians and protesters when they are needed?

  • Richard Hertz Jun 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Once again the state has fail to protect it's citizens. And once again the main reason that this guy was release is his race. Now no one will admit this but any one of color will get a pass because the state does not want to be called a racist.