Judge hears testimony on witness’s murder in Nashid Porter trial

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — On day four, the judge for a murder trial heard testimony about the murder of one of the witnesses for this trial.

Nashid Porter is defending himself in this trial for the 2012 murder of Brian Grant. Porter is also charged with the murder of Obediah Hester on November 12, 2014. Hester was a witness for Grant’s trial.

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After the jury was selected Wednesday, the court began a 404 (b) hearing to determine whether certain testimony will be admissible in the trial.  A new witness in Brian Grant’s murder was the first witness the judge heard Thursday. Porter told the judge he does not want to have any part of this hearing. He is waiting in another room while this hearing goes on. He has a video in the room, but he told the court he will not watch it.

Friday morning, a witness in Hester’s murder, Benjamin Patrick, took the stand. Patrick is from Wilmington. He grew up in Creekwood. He knew Nashid Porter and Obediah Hester. Patrick worked at the House of Raeford in Wallace with Obediah Hester.

On November 12, 2014, Patrick picked up Hester for work. He said they saw Nashid Porter in his driveway on their way, so they stopped to talk to him for a minute. Patrick said Porter saw Hester in Patrick’s back seat. He said Porter gave Hester a weird look. Patrick said Hester did not notice the weird look. He says Hester told him they were alright. Porter asked Patrick to come back to his house after work.



Patrick, Hester and another man went to Porter’s after work. Patrick said it was dark. He said Porter asked if he would drive them to his father’s house. Patrick said Hester was in the front seat.

Patrick said they went to a trailer that looked abandoned. Patrick said Porter asked Hester to get out. Patrick said when Hester got out of the car he gave Patrick a look like he was worried about something.  Then, Patrick heard a gun shot and Hester came running. Patrick said he sat there to see if Hester could get back to the car. He said he then saw Porter standing over Hester pointing a gun at his head and then he said he heard the last gun shot.  Porter was directly over him.

Patrick said he pulled out very quickly and started heading towards Hester’s grandmother’s house in Wilmington. Patrick said he did not call the police. Patrick said when he got to Sarah Bragg’s house, he told her Hester had been shot. He said he knew Hester did not survive, but he could not tell Sarah that.

Bragg then called 911.

Sarah Bragg to 911 operator: “My grandson, works at that chicken place. The fellow he rides with tells me he got shot somewhere in Wallace.”

Sarah: “I’ve got to go to Wallace. He could be laying on the ground bleeding to death.”
Operator: “I am going to transfer you to Duplin. You need to figure out an address.”
Sarah: “He’s from Wilmington. The people that he ride with say someone shot him. They left. They don’t know the area that well.”
Sarah: “I just can’t stay here and worry about him.”

Patrick then said he was able to lead the officers back to where it happened. Patrick said he knew Porter was on a pre-trial release, but he did not know why. He said he did not know Hester had made a statement in that case.

WWAY interviewed Sarah Bragg after Hester’s murder. 

The judge then heard from Susan Holland with the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office. Holland said she was at the scene of Hester’s death after Patrick lead authorities to the location.

Holland said she did not go into the crime scene at that point. She said her job was to do the interviews. Holland said according to the autopsy, Hester was shot 11 times. She said the autopsy shows blunt force trauma was the cause of death. Holland said there was blood coming out of Hester’s ear and his face had been smashed. She said there was severe damage to his skull. She said there was a cinder block near his body.

The state then called Loida Gomez. She worked at the House of Raeford in HR. She confirmed that Obediah Hester, Benjamin Patrick, and another man were all at work the morning of November 12, 2014.

Then, the state called Michelle Taylor the the stand. Taylor works with New Hanover County’s pre-trial release program. Taylor said she met with Porter in February of 2014 when he came into the program. She said Porter was eventually put on a GPS monitoring device. Taylor said Porter was living in Duplin County in Wallace at the time.

Taylor said she notified officers on Nov. 12, 2014 that Porter had cut off his bracelet. Taylor said she was able to track the places the bracelet had been. She said she got the tamper notice at 8:56 p.m. on Nov. 12,2014.

The state then called Lee Odham with the Wilmington Police Department. He was the lead detective in July 2012 when Brian Grant was killed.

Odham said Brian Grant was killed at 916 N. 30th St in Creekwood. He said Grant was in a doorway area. Odham said Grant was obviously shot. He said Ebony Hines’s 13-year-old daughter was asleep upstairs.
Odham said the gunshot seemed to be in a close range. He said the bullet was in nose. He said it took a while for them to find a wound. Odham said his death was instant. Odham said it did not seem to be a robbery, because he still had his wallet.

Odham said there was a red chair in the front yard. He said witnesses said the suspect was sitting in that chair waiting for Grant to come home. Odham said it can take 18 months to two and a half years to get the cigarettes on the ground nearby tested at the state crime lab. Ebony Hines was the registered occupant of the house. Hines told Odham she had gone to work and Grant took her. She said she saw Nashid Porter across the street. Hines told Odham Porter and Grant argued the night before.

Odham said Patrick Bragg was at the scene. He said Bragg did not tell them anything. Odham said Hines and Billy Sims were standing in the yard and they heard gun shots. He said they reported they saw a young light skinned male skipping away from where the shooting occurred. They said he had his hand in his pockets. They said he got into a older black vehicle.

Odham said Hester told him Porter is a distant family member of his and had come down from Wallace to stay the night. Odham said over the next six weeks, they made several attempts to arrest Porter. They got help from the U.S. Marshal service. Odham said the marhsal got a federal search warrant for Porter’s phones because he said the phone numbers kept changing.

Odham said Porter was arrested on September 4, 2012. Odham said Hester was brought down to the Wilmington Police Department to tell them what he knew about Grant’s murder. Odham said after Hester made his statement to police, it was given to the defense.

Odham said Porter’s DNA did not come back on the red chair, the cigarettes, or anything else. There was no physical evidence. Odham said there was an order in court for Porter’s pre-trial release, because they had no physical evidence.

Odham said Porter was set to go to trial in January 2014 for Grant’s murder and Hester was a witness. Hester was then killed on Nov. 12, 2014.

Finally, the state played a phone call from jail between Porter and his girlfriend. David said he thinks it is relevant, because Porter and the girlfriend both display some concern. David said it also seems Porter was looking for comfort in his girlfriend during both alleged murders.

To see live updates from court, follow WWAY Weekend Anchor Hannah Patrick @Hannahpatric.