Following two days of trial and deliberation, Kingwood resident Hunter Ryan Hamilton Woods has been found guilty of murdering Kingwood resident Barrett Shirley in 2014. The jury handed down a sentence of 25 years on Thursday, July 14.
The trial consisted of testimony from witnesses to the crime, as well as police officers and forensics experts who worked the case.
The scene of the crime
Two friends of Shirley, present at the time of his death, were called as witnesses to set the scene. Brett Stilwell, the first witness, lived at a home on Garden Village Drive in Kingwood, owned by his mother. His brother, Trent, and Shirley lived there as well, and were socializing with friends that evening.
Stilwell testified that he recalled sitting with friends in the garage when he heard a gunshot in front of the house. He said he ran to the front door where he met Shirley, who was saying that he had been shot. at a home 3002 Maple Knoll Drive … at a home at 2047 Little Cedar Drive …
“I rushed into the house in a panic and I saw my friend running toward me,” Stilwell said. “He came and fell into my arms. He said ‘I’ve been shot.’ I carried him to the carpet and we all called 911.”
Stilwell recounted that he performed CPR on Shirley as instructed by the 911 dispatcher, but Shirley was pronounced dead when first responders arrived on the scene.
Ryan Doolin was also present that evening, and recalled Woods briefly entering the house. He said that Woods had intended to buy marijuana from Shirley and needed to go back to his car for money. He said that Shirley followed Woods outside, and he walked behind “just to be safe.”
“I could see Barrett clearly, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. He was talking to some kids in the car. I assume it was Hunter,” Doolin said.
After some confrontation, Doolin saw Shirley walk away from the car, at which point the driver drew a gun and shot Shirley in the back. Doolin would leave the scene along with two others before police arrived, but was brought in the next day for questioning.
Woods’ then-girlfriend, Anissa Lescrynski, was woken up by Woods when he returned home later, according to her testimony. According to Lescrynski’s account, Woods returned home, shook her awake, and confessed to shooting Shirley.
“He said he had picked up [his friend] Brandon Perry and drove to someone’s house to buy weed,” Lescrynski said. “He said Brandon shot [a gun] up at Barrett and so did he. He told me Brandon shot first, then he shot and he saw Barrett stumble and go down. He told me he knew he killed him.”
Officers Mark Coleman and Todd Tyler, partners in the Houston Police Department’s homicide division, testified on their experience investigating Shirley’s murder.
After interviewing several witnesses, including Doolin, Perry, and another friend of Shirley’s present at the shooting, the two determined Woods to be a suspect and gained a search warrant for Woods’s residence, believing the murder weapon to be kept there. It was at this time that Woods was offered the chance to submit to voluntary questioning, which he accepted.
“At this point, the questioning was not custodial. There was no arrest and no charges,” Coleman said.
Woods was taken to the HPD homicide office for a video interview. A recording of the interview was shown in court. After some questioning from Coleman on camera, Woods confessed to shooting Shirley.
“There’s a pistol in the gun safe with three cases of ammo with one bullet missing. I shot Barrett in the back,” Woods said on the tape. “We had a huge fight and I just snapped.”
Woods went on to explain that he had been carrying the gun for several days due to fearing for his safety after a physical fight, clarifying that he did not carry it with the intent of killing Shirley.
While carrying out the search warrant, Coleman and Tyler found a .380-caliber pistol and ammunition matching Woods’ description. Testimony from forensics experts connected the gun to the sole bullet casing found at the scene.
After the confession, Coleman left the room and the recording ended. Coleman testified that at this point he contacted the district attorney and put Woods into custody, then returned to conduct more questioning after reading Woods his rights.
On the recording of the second interview, Coleman said that he had multiple sources claiming that the shooting was the result of a pot deal, which Woods denied. He stated that an ex-girlfriend of his had been speaking with Shirley, which resulted in arguments between them. He also denied any involvement by Perry in the shooting.
The guilty verdict game on Wednesday, the second day of the trial, late in the day. After spending the evening deliberating sentencing, the jury returned and gave their decision early Thursday.
3707 Clear Falls Drive
at 2047 Little Cedar Drive in Kingwood