THE HONORABLE Matthew J. Stewart presided over the first-degree murder trials of Otis Smith Jr. and Anthony Holloway, which concluded on Monday, Oct. 23 in 35th Circuit Court with guilty verdicts for both defendants. The two half-brothers were tried at the same time, but with separate juries, in the third-floor courtroom of the Shiawassee County Courthouse in Corunna.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The juries returned to Judge Matthew Stewart’s courtroom on Monday afternoon, Oct. 23, with guilty verdicts for Otis Smith Jr., 32, and Anthony Holloway, 24, who were accused of murdering Flint residents Anthony Hammond and Joseph Carson on Jan. 27, 2017. Half-brothers Smith and Holloway were each convicted of the six felonies with which they were charged – two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and illegal possession of a firearm – and they both now face the possibility of life in prison without parole.
The two men were tried concurrently, but with separate juries and attorneys, for the shooting deaths of Carson and Hammond that occurred in the Walmart employee parking lot in Caledonia Township. Carson and Smith had previously met on Craigslist and arranged the meeting at Walmart so that Carson could sell Smith one pound of marijuana. The defendants acknowledged meeting Carson and Hammond at the Caledonia Township Walmart on Jan. 27, but insist they only intended to buy marijuana.
After hearing the testimony of 17 prosecutorial witnesses and Holloway over five days, the two juries did not take long to reach their verdicts. Testimony was completed on Monday, and both juries were ready with their verdicts before the end of the day.
Smith will return to 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart’s courtroom at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 for sentencing. Holloway will have to wait an additional week to hear his fate, with his sentencing set for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 15. Smith’s ex-girlfriend, Erin Mongar, who admitted to driving the brothers to Owosso for the meeting, will be sentenced on Friday, Nov. 17 after pleading guilty in August to second-degree murder.
Mongar was initially charged with the same six felony counts as Smith and Holloway, but her charges were reduced after she agreed to testify for the prosecution. Mongar was an important witness for the prosecution, as she testified that each defendant brought a gun to the meeting. She also refuted the defendants’ claims that they never intended to shoot or rob the victims by testifying that the plan formulated by the two men in the days prior to the meeting was to rob Carson of the marijuana.
Both Mongar and Holloway alleged that Smith shot Carson and Hammond with the 9-millimeter pistol he brought to the meeting. The 9-millimeter pistol and a 45-caliber pistol that Holloway brought to the Jan. 27 meeting were later found at Holloway’s residence by Michigan State Police investigators, with both weapons containing biological matter that connected them to the scene.