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Hoard’s attorney argues self defense as Preston murder trial begins

KINGWOOD – There are two sides to every story, defense attorney Belinda Haynie said in her opening argument Friday at Preston County Circuit Court.

Haynie is Aaron Glenn Hoard’s attorney. Hoard is accused of first-degree murder in the November 2019 shooting death of Grant William Felton Jr., of Terra Alta, outside the now-closed Shorthorn’s Saloon.   

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Megan Fields opened the arguments. She said as the prosecution’s story unfolds, it will tell of a senseless murder.

“Grant Felton was a family man,” Fields said. “His two oldest kids are not his biological kids. He raised them from a young age.  When he met their mom, he was 19. Not many men would want to take on a family, but he did, and he treated them (his stepchildren) the same as he did his own son.”

Fields said on Nov. 2, 2019 ,Felton took his family to Shorthorns to listen a band. She said customers at the bar were dressed in Halloween costumes and some were dancing. Fields said evidence would show Aaron Hoard and his friends went to Shorthorns and after some time at the bar, were repeatedly asked to leave.

“He knocked a 75-year-old woman off her seat and bumped into some of the women who were dancing,” she said. “The owner of Shorthorns, Jason Peaslee, told Hoard he would have to leave and not come back.”

Fields said Hoard and his friends drove away, and then came back and parked in the road across from the barn.  She said Hoard and Bryan Teets (Hoard’s friend) went back into Shorthorns and were again told to leave. Teets said he was missing a hat and a vest, and one of their companions, Christina Andrews, was missing her cell phone. They were once again told to leave.  One of their friends, Shawn Moats, told them he would find their stuff and personally deliver it to them. They did not leave.

Fields said Hoard walked up to a group standing near where the band trailer was and said he would take everyone on.  She said that was when Felton grabbed him and took him across the road to his truck and released him.

“After Grant released him, Hoard’s girlfriend jumped on his (Grant’s) back and knocked him to the ground,” she said. “Aaron Hoard reaches into the vehicle for his pistol and put four bullets in Grant’s back, head and chest, killing him almost instantly.”

She said a video will show Hoard fleeing the scene.

“He never reported he shot someone,” Fields said.” He turned himself in 36 hours later, a prime example of everything must be Aaron Hoard’s way.”

The defense then presented its side of the story.

Haynie said the incident occurred when Hoard and his girlfriend decided to invite their friends to go out for an evening.  She said their plan was to go to Shorthorns and listen to music.

“Customers were in costumes, but Aaron and his girlfriend went in their regular clothes,” Haynie said. “Their group stayed in the area near the band. When the band was about to leave, there was a problem in the bar. Aaron didn’t know it was a problem until it was pointed out to him, and he was asked to leave. He didn’t fight with the bouncer.”

She said a video would show a bouncer and three self-appointed bouncers physically dragging Teets to the truck and throwing him on the ground.

Haynie said Hoard and his friends decided to go back and look for Teets’ hat and vest, and Andrews’ cell phone.  Andrews told Hoard where she thought she lost it.

“On the video, you will see the first time Felton makes eye contact (with Hoard) and viciously grabs him by the neck.  You will see Aaron trying to get in the truck.  Eight or 10 people, mostly large men, and Grant taking Aaron to the truck, putting him in a chokehold and beating Teets at the back door (of the truck).”

She said it was at that point, in his last place of refuge, that Hoard grabbed his gun for protection.  Haynie said he did so out of fear and for protection, because he was afraid for his life.

“He had no idea what these people would do to him, his wife, his friends.  He shot four shots in the air – warning shots, trying to disperse the unruly crowd,” she said.

She said the evidence clearly shows self defense.

Haynie said the struggle between Grant and Aaron took place inside the truck. She said the blood on Aaron’s clothes shows this. 

“After the four warning shots, Hoard couldn’t let go of the gun due to the hands on it,” Haynie said, referring to D.J. Wilt and Hoard struggling for control of the gun.

She said strangulation is a felony, and evidence will show Hoard had every right to grab his gun for self defense.

Haynie said Hoard should be found innocent by reason of self defense.

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