DEFENDANTS Otis Smith Jr. (right) and Anthony Holloway can be seen standing – along with attorney Douglas Corwin (left) – as jurors enter the courtroom on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The two Grand Rapids residents are each charged with six felonies – two counts of first degree murder, two counts of armed robbery, and one count each of possession of a firearm and conspiracy to commit armed robbery – for their alleged roles in the double homicide that occurred in the Caledonia Township Walmart parking lot on Jan. 27.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

 

by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

The trial of the two alleged perpetrators of the Jan. 27, 2017 double homicide that took place outside Walmart on M-21 in Caledonia Township began Monday, Oct. 16. Half brothers Anthony Holloway, 24, and Otis Smith Jr., 32, are being tried separately but simultaneously in 35th Circuit Court, with the Honorable Matthew Stewart presiding. Both Smith and Holloway are charged in connection with the murders of Joseph Carson and Anthony Hammond, both of Flint.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Dan Nees, Special Prosecutor Matt McKone, and Detective Sergeant David Rivard are handling the prosecution, while Smith is represented by Gloria Santrucek-Arndt and Holloway by Douglas Corwin. Motions were previously filed on behalf of both defendants seeking a change of venue. Opening statements were made on Monday, Oct. 16, followed by the prosecution’s presentation of proofs. McKone reported on Wednesday, Oct. 18 that the prosecution intends to call 17 witnesses.

Warranted searches of the defendants’ Grand Rapids residences in the days following the Jan. 27 incident produced two handguns, a 9-mm and a .45 caliber. Smith’s attorney reported in her opening statement on Oct. 16 that Smith brought the 9-mm pistol for protection. The defendants claim they only intended to purchase marijuana from Carson and Hammond, but that they were attacked after entering Carson’s vehicle.

Surveillance footage shows Holloway and Smith climbing into the back seat of Carson’s vehicle between 11 a.m. and noon on Jan. 27, with the two defendants exiting the vehicle less than five minutes later. The bodies were found and reported by Carson’s wife at approximately 5 p.m. after her attempts to contact her husband were unsuccessful.

Smith’s then girlfriend and the driver of the vehicle on Jan. 27, Erin Mongar, was initially charged with the same six felonies as Smith and Holloway, but she pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder in August. As part of her plea deal, Mongar agreed to testify against the two defendants.

Mongar took the stand on Oct. 19, testifying that she saw both defendants with guns during the trip to Owosso from Grand Rapids. She also confirmed that the plan all along was to rob Carson and Hammond. She noted that Smith told her and Holloway that if they were caught, he would take the blame.

Upon re-entering Mongar’s vehicle after leaving the victims’ vehicle, Smith told her that one of the victims lunged at him, which caused him to shoot the man in the leg. The defendants left the Walmart parking lot with the stolen marijuana and drove back to Grand Rapids, stopping along the way so Smith and Holloway could discard their clothes prior to returning home. Mongar reports that Smith advised her to “drive carefully” and “go the speed limit” on the way home from Walmart. Also, Mongar observed what appeared to be blood on Smith’s pants shortly after leaving Walmart, and she shared that Smith threw the phone of one of the victims out of the car window shortly after leaving Walmart.

Walmart Murder Trial Begins was last modified: October 23rd, 2017 by Karen Elford