MOBILE, Alabama — In the case against Brandon Estle, accused of brutally beating Justin Hasty to death in 2012, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree Estle killed Hasty in an argument over drugs and money, but they differ on who struck the first blow.
In opening statements, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich described the grizzly aftermath left behind after Estle, 26, attacked Hasty, 25, in Hasty’s Oakleigh apartment.
She described “hundreds of blood spots,” spread across the home’s bedroom and adjoining rooms, thrown into the bedroom’s ceiling and other areas during the “relentless” attack.
“Brandon Estle beat him [Hasty] to a bloody pulp, and then stuffed his body into a container,” Rich said, gesturing to a large storage container sitting next to the jury box.
The box, covered in white paper and clear tape, has holes in it from where Estle is believed to have shot Hasty’s body post-mortem. Estle shot it with two different guns — a .30-caliber hunting rifle and Hasty’s .40-caliber handgun, according to Rich.
Rich said it was the same box Hasty’s body was found in days after his death, the end result of an argument over money.
Estle and Hasty both sold drugs, according to Rich. Hasty had given Estle $1,500 worth of marijuana and he wanted the money back, Rich said a string of text messages would show.
Late night on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, Estle went to Hasty’s home. Rich said Estle wanted to borrow more money from Hasty after learning he had lost his job two days before. Hasty refused.
“Out of nowhere comes Brandon with a bat,” Rich said.
He took Hasty’s gun, wallet, $1,500 given to him by a friend earlier in the night and Hasty’s cell phone before driving to his parent’s property in Grand Bay.
A few days later, Estle’s parents noticed blood on clothes he had left in the laundry room and confronted their son about it. That’s when authorities were called and Hasty’s body was found, according to Rich.
However, Estle has maintained since his arrest that he acted in self-defense.
According to defense attorney Jeff Deen, the attack on Hasty was a response to an attack on Estle.
Deen told jurors Hasty was on drugs when Estle went to his home on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Hasty, who Deen said had “built himself up as being a drug kingpin in the Mobile area,” was paranoid when Estle arrived and ranting about people stealing money from him.
He told Estle he wanted his money back before “whack[ing] him in the knee,” with an aluminum baseball bat which he kept behind his front door.
Hasty was the one who initially grabbed his .40-caliber handgun, according to Deen.
“It’s his house — he knows where the guns are,” Deen said.
Estle, who was also on drugs at the time of the attack, fought back and killed Hasty. On Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, he told his parents that he was seeing spirits, a statement which Deen used to bolster the claim that Estle was suffering from the effect of too many drugs. He slept with the lights on his bedroom that night.
Deen argued that his client is not guilty, despite the brutality of the attack.
“That doesn’t make him guilty of murder,” Deen said.