A judge ruled Tuesday that three people must stand trial on murder charges for the shooting death of an Ontario resident last year at a Pomona barbershop.
Larry Hammett, 46, was shot and killed in the course of a robbery attempt July 27 at Groom Time All Star Barbers, 924 E. Holt Ave., according to testimony Tuesday at a preliminary hearing in Pomona Superior Court.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Charles Horan ruled that Omari Ali, 20, Keyon Rasheed Hill, 19, and Breeana Finley, 19, must stand trial on murder charges.
Demond White, a friend of Hammett’s and a frequent visitor to Groom Time, testified that he visited the shop that morning to get a haircut and visit Hammett.
White testified that he and Hammett smoked marijuana in the alley before the start of the day’s business at Groom Time.
Hammett told White that he expected a visitor that day to make a large marijuana purchase, White testified. White testified that he saw Hammett bagging the marijuana in the barbershop’s private office.
Less than an hour later, Ali and Hill visited the barbershop to meet with Hammett, presumably for the marijuana transaction, in the shop’s private office, White testified.
Sounds of a struggle soon followed, White testified.
“Ninety seconds later I heard Larry screaming, ‘Folks, folks, folks, folks, folks,’” White testified.
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White said another barber opened the office door, and White said he saw Hammett, Ali and Hill struggling over a black leather bag containing the marijuana.
White testified that he saw Ali reach for a pistol in his waistband. White testified that he turned and ran from the barbershop, and as his back was turned he heard several gunshots.
After Ali and Hill fled the area, White said he went back to the barbershop and found that Hammett had been shot several times and was unresponsive.
One of the shop’s other barbers, Dominic Moffett, testified that immediately prior to the shooting, he saw Finley sitting in the driver’s seat of a champagne-colored sedan in the alley behind the barbershop.
A woman who worked at a nearby bridal store testified that she saw two men matching the description of Ali and Hill run to the car and get in following the shooting.
The three defendants did score a victory at the hearing because Horan did not hold them to answer on allegations in the charges that the crime was committed for the benefit of a street gang.
Walter Newman, Ali’s attorney, said that juries can be swayed in favor of the prosecution when charges contain gang allegations.
The three defendants were in custody Tuesday and remained jailed in lieu of bail. They are due back in court Feb. 19.