Alisha Wyman, The Union Democrat
Published Jan 19, 2009 at 07:14PM / Updated Aug 23, 2015 at 08:33PM
A young man testified against his friend for much of the day Friday, during the trial of a suspect in an April shooting in Twain Harte.
Eric Haddan’s testimony was part of a deal prosecutors struck with him, after he was also charged in connection with the crime.
Twain Harte resident Brandt Walther, 18, is charged with attempted
murder and assault with a firearm in the April 11 shooting of Jason
Dyer, 22, following a punk rock concert in Eproson Park.
Haddan, 19, appeared in court wearing a white button up shirt, his
head shaved. He looked straight ahead solemnly, only allowing his eyes
to dart toward Walther a couple times.
Haddan retraced April 11’s events during Deputy District Attorney Eric Hovatter’s questioning.
He said he was at home that night when he started receiving calls
from friend Joey LeCompte’s phone. He ignored them at first, but
It was Walther, asking Haddan to pick him up from the concert.
Haddan agreed and told him to meet him at the Shell Station in Twain
When Walther got in the car, he was “edgy,” talking about his dislike
for Dyer, known as “Too Tall.” Walther told him to stop at a footbridge
at the head of a trail leading into the park.
He asked about a gun he knew Haddan kept in his car, took it from
under passenger seat and said he’d be right back, Haddan said.
“I told him whatever he does is on him,” Haddan said.
Hovatter asked him why he didn’t stop him.
“I figured he wanted to beat him up or put a gun to his head, make him scared, so I went along with it,” he said.
Haddan was waiting in his car when another teen, Shawn Pello,
approached. Pello told him something bad was going to happen and he
shouldn’t be there.
Haddan offered Pello a ride, but he declined.
“But Brandt Walther was going to come back with your gun,” Hovatter
said. “Didn’t you think that was going to be a little awkward?”
“Yes, I wanted a reason to leave,” Haddan said.
“That would have left Brandt Walther in a bit of a jam wouldn’t it?”
“It would have,” Haddan said.
Shortly after Walther left, Haddan heard six gunshots, a pause, then two more.
Walther reappeared and got in the car.
“He said, ‘I f-ing shot that guy,’ ” Haddan said. “He said, ‘Too Tall’s bent over, leaking on the ground.’ ”
He took Walther home, then went home and went to bed. The next
morning, he got a message from Walther telling him to hide his clothes
and the gun.
Haddan burned his clothes and hid down the street, he said. Law
enforcement officers arrived shortly thereafter, and he turned himself
Haddan ultimately pleaded guilty to assault with a firearm. He led
investigators to the gun, was sentenced to 10 months in jail and will
be on probation for five years.
Haddan’s image, the gun, changes in his testimony and the agreement
he made with prosecutors were among the topics defense co-counsel Adam
Stewart concentrated on in his cross examination.
He asked about his white Cadillac, suede gloves Haddan said he often wore, and the gun.
“You drive around with a gun in your car, in a lowered Cadillac, with gloves on. You weren’t a wanna-be gangster?” he asked.
Haddan replied that it didn’t feel that way.
He testified that he bought the gun on the street and filed the serial
number off. Few people knew about it, but he did use it in previous
robberies, he told Tuolumne County Investigator Eric Erhardt.
Haddan said Walther wrapped a shirt around his face before exiting
the car. This was something he had never mentioned in earlier
interviews, Stewart pointed out.
There are other holes in the story, Stewart said.
“How on earth does Brandt Walther allegedly know that Too Tall is waiting in the bleachers?” Stewart asked.
“I wondered the same thing,” he said. “I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it.”
Stewart also pointed out how Haddan told investigators that
following the shooting, he made Walther get out of the car early
because he was furious. On the stand, he told Hovatter he took Walther
all the way home.
Stewart asked if Haddan was still incarcerated, to which he replied no.
After Haddan was arrested, he waited three months to come forward with his story.
“You have the keys to get out of the jail, why wait?”
“I think it would be easier to go to prison than come up here today,” he said.
While incarcerated, Haddan studied several hundred pages of police
reports and interviews, he testified. He did this, he told Hovatter
earlier, to find fault with the rumors going around and to better his
“If you knew the truth, why did it matter what everyone else said?” he asked
“It just seemed like everyone was pointing the finger at me,” Haddan said.
“So you wanted to point the finger at Mr. Walther?”
The trial will continue Wednesday.
Contact Alisha Wyman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4526.