Sheriff James Williams took the stand to testify how he and other law enforcement officials and Hammer’s attorney heard Hammer’s confession in July 2009 while Hammer was incarcerated in Virginia for the 2008 murders of Ron Hudler, Fred Hudler and John Miller in Grassy Creek.
At that time, Blevins’ body had not been found, the sheriff said. Blevins had disappeared in February 2007 after having last been seen in the company of Hammer. A person of interest in the missing man case for all those years, Hammer finally confessed to the murder, Williams said, and described what had happened and where he had hidden the body.
Hammer described how he had taken Blevins to a wooded spot in Clifton and shot him in the back of the head with a .22 caliber handgun, letting him fall face first into a pit, and then covered the body with boards and brush and left him there, said the sheriff. He said it was because of the money, Williams said, describing how Blevins was owed about $1,600 by Hammer who he had been working for, and how Blevins was going to take Hammer to small claims court to try and collect the money. He said he’d been good to Jimmy, Williams reported Hammer saying.
When the searchers were combing the area looking for Blevins’ body, they used a map Hammer had provided, and the sheriff said he got permission on the phone to speak with Hammer who directed the searchers to the exact site. Eventually, they did find the body, and the wound was consistent with a small caliber handgun, the sheriff said, and everything was consistent with what Hammer said.
In court Tuesday morning, the family of Jimmy Blevins sat close together on the second row of seats. The first rows were taped off to prevent anyone getting too close to Hammer. Guards surrounded the courtroom and blocked the path to the attorney tables and the judge’s bench.
Hammer came shuffling in, confined in chains, and wearing an orange jumpsuit. Heavier than when he was arrested in 2008 for the Grassy Creek murders and with a nearly shaved head, Hammer showed no emotion as he answered the judge’s questions. When asked if he pled guilty to Blevins’ murder, Hammer responded, “I do,” and when asked if he was guilty of Blevins’ murder, Hammer responded, “Yes, sir.” To the question of pleading guilty to a first degree murder charge, Hammer responded, “Yes, your honor.” And when the judge asked if he fully understood what his pleading guilty meant, Hammer responded in a quieter voice, “Yes.” The judge sentenced him to life without parole for the murder of Jimmy Blevins.
Outside the courtroom, there were tears and hugs among the members of Blevins’ family and their legal representatives. When asked how she felt about the sentencing, Jimmy’s mother, Janet Blevins, said, “Good.” His sister said there would never be closure for the family, because Jimmy is gone.