The case against an Albemarle County man charged with second-degree murder will proceed following a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Bryan Garick Hatcher, 45, was arrested in November after police responded to reports of a single shot being fired in the 800 block of Orangedale Avenue in Charlottesville.
Officers at the scene found a man lying on the ground with an apparent gunshot wound and performed CPR until rescue personnel arrived. That man was later identified as Tiewan Levert Benston, 41, of Charlottesville, and he was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court, city Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania and police Detective Kim Hiner walked through some of the evidence against Hatcher, shedding light on the events surrounding Benston’s death.
According to Hiner’s testimony, after arriving at the intersection of Orangedale Avenue and Bailey Road on Nov. 14, Benston was located beside a black truck with an open door. Benston had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. His cause of death was later confirmed via autopsy to be the result of the gunshot wound.
A witness who had called police said she had seen a visibly intoxicated man leave the scene and gave a description of him. That description was used to detain Hatcher, whom the witness positively identified twice.
According to Hiner’s testimony, Hatcher later told officers that he had been riding in the truck with Benston when he suddenly could not find his wallet. Hatcher told officers that he accused Benston of stealing his wallet. Hatcher’s wallet and I.D. were later located in Benston’s truck.
However, Hatcher told police that he and Benston then heard arguing across the street and decided to flee the vehicle after Hatcher shot a bullet into the woods. Hiner said investigators later determined that only one shot was fired at the scene and had not been fired from across the street.
After officers met with Benston’s family on Nov.15, Hiner said they learned that the truck had a camera installed in the rearview mirror. This motion-activated camera captured two relevant videos, one of which appeared to show Hatcher leaving the truck soon after the shot was fired with something heavy tucked into his sweatpants. Hiner later confirmed that the shooting had not been captured by the camera.
Given the evidence presented, Judge Andrew Sneathern certified two charges: second-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The case will now proceed to a Charlottesville Circuit Court grand jury and is pre-set to begin a three-day trial Oct. 4.
The trial will see both sides present further evidence and testimony, including from the defense, which did not introduce any evidence during Thursday’s hearing.
Hatcher remains at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail while he awaits trial.