(MOBILE, Ala.) The case of a Mobile man accused of beating his friend to death with a baseball bat was ordered Thursday to be handed over to a Mobile County Grant Jury.
Judge Charlie McNight made the decision Thursday morning in a packed courtroom for the preliminary hearing of 26-year-old Brandon Estle.
Estle was charged with murder in the death of Justin Hasty, who was found in a tool box behind Estle's father's home in Grand Bay in October.
Though prosecutors said they have yet to establish a motive in the case, a lot of evidence was shared at Estle's preliminary hearing Thursday morning.
"It's one of the worst beatings I've ever seen," Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said. "This crime has crushed both of the families."
During testimony, police said the tool box where a Mobile County Sheriff's Deputy found Hasty's body was "chained and secured", with a car seat sitting on top of the tool box.
Police said bullet holes were found in the tool box, and, after examining the victim's body, found several gunshot wounds on Hasty.
"After Justin Hasty died of the brutal beating that was inflicted upon him, he was shot numerous times post mortem," Rich said.
Rich said no firearms have been recovered during the course of the investigation.
Further testimony revealed that blood was found in the bed of Brandon Estle's pickup truck, and the several baseball bats were found at Estle's home in Mobile.
Estle claimed he was acting in self defense after Hasty hit him in the leg with a baseball bat during an argument, but Rich disagrees.
"Based on the magnitude of the beating, based on the fact that he continued to shoot the victim after the victim was dead does not indicate a self-defense claim," Rich said.
Testimony also revealed that Hasty's cellphone was found at Mobile Regional Airport by a maintenance worker the day after, police said, they searched for the missing man at his home on Caroline Drive.
Police said they found Hasty's bedroom covered in blood, and a pound in marijuana in his closet.
"I think you will see as the evidence unfolds a history of drug activity by the defendant and the victim," Rich said.
Friends and family of both Estle and Hasty were well represented in court Thursday morning. Hasty's family refused to comment about the case.
Baker High School Principal Clem Richardson said the incident is unfortunate, but he and Brandon Estle's family will stand by him as the case unfolds.
"We've all known Brandon his entire life, and we know Brandon is a fine, upstanding young man," Richardson said.