Guilty verdict in Hardin County murder trial
After two days of testimony, a Hardin County jury came back with a guilty verdict for the youngster accused of shooting 18-year-old Lamar University student Brian Drake.
Curtis Glaze, 24, was indicted by a Hardin County grand jury Dec. 11, 2012, in the murder of Drake just over two year ago.
Drake, a Lumberton native, was a freshman at Lamar.
According to court testimony from at least 13 forensics experts, Hardin County Sheriff’s officers and eyewitnesses, Curtis and his cousin Joshua Glaze chased Brian Drake and two other passengers after Drake dropped off a friend at the end of Glaze Road in Hardin County on Nov. 14, 2012. During the chase, Drake suffered a single gunshot to the back of his neck and died.
First to take the stand Tuesday, Dec. 3, was Allen Theal, who told the jury he, Briana Herring and Drake had just dropped off their friend on Glaze Road when a white Dodge Durango began to follow them. After a brief high-speed chase, Theal relayed a horrifying story of flying bullets and broken glass as he struggled to regain control of Drake’s truck after it was clear his close friend was shot.
“The back window shattered and Brian jerked the wheel and we were going off the road,” Theal said.
Briana Herring was second to take the stand, telling jurors she and Theal grabbed Drake’s phone and ran into some nearby woods after Theal was able to bring the Silverado to a stop, narrowly missing a light pole. As they hid in the woods, quietly terrified, Herring said she was on the phone with police when the Glaze cousins returned to inspect Drake’s truck.
“They told us they could see us and they were going to get us,” Herring testified.
Joel Hartman, the owner of the White Dodge Durango driven by the Glaze cousins, would later testify there were numerous stolen items inside his truck when he went to retrieve it from police.
Hours after the shooting, Curtis Glaze would tell police in an interview that he and Joshua were stealing parts from a nearby ATV when Drake approached to drop off a friend. The state’s attorney’s would later tell a jury in closing statements that the Glaze cousins might have wanted to ensure no one would find out about their theft and decided to chase and shoot Drake’s Silverado.
But perhaps the state’s most important witness was Mallory Wood, who has a child with Joshua Glaze and who was inside the white Durango when the Glaze cousins began the high-speed chase and shooting.
Despite the defense’s best efforts, the jury might have been swayed by Wood’s testimony, which definitively placed Joshua as the driver and Curtis as the shooter.
Police would later find Curtis’ weapon — a high powered, bolt action deer rifle given to Curtis as a present — along with two spent shell casings.
It took a jury less than an hour to find Curtis guilty of murder.
Curtis’ wife and mother of their two children sobbed loudly upon hearing the verdict in court.
Herring, who had seen her friend die in a hail of bullets, said she was glad for the guilty verdict.
“I’m the happiest girl ever,” she said.
Bruce Hoffer, a Hardin County prosecutor who played a key role in the Glaze trial and whose own children are in their 20s, became emotional after the verdict, saying the young victims of Curtis’ crime were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said it could have happened to anyone.
“The young people involved, as far as the deceased and the people in that car, they were no different than any of the rest of us,” a momentarily emotional Hoffer said. “They didn’t do anything wrong. As far as Curtis Glaze and his cousin, they were also relatively young. Everyone needs a moral compass.”
Joshua Glaze’s murder trial is set for January. Curtis Glaze will be sentenced Friday, Dec. 6.
Clay Thorp can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 222, or by e-mail at clay [at] theexaminer [dot] com.