Trial ordered in deadly Van Buren Co. park shooting

Thurman Fletcher
A Feb. 5, 2017 mug shot of Thurman Fletcher. (Michigan Department of Corrections)

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who first blamed his injuries on a squirrel hunting accident will go to trial for a deadly shooting in a Bangor park.

Both the suspect and victim’s families were in court Thursday as a South Haven District Court judge bound over the case against Thurman Fletcher Jr.  to circuit court.

Fletcher is charged with felony firearm and open murder in the Feb. 3 shooting that killed 28-year-old Eddie “E.J.” Holland. Police said a drug deal gone wrong sparked the shooting at Lions Park.

Eddie Holland
An undated courtesy photo of Eddie “E.J.” Holland, provided by relatives.

Michigan State Police arrested Fletcher after he showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound to his right leg and foot.

Fletcher originally told officers he accidentally shot himself while squirrel hunting, but police said he changed his story, saying he got into a fight with Holland, who shot him with the gun that fell out of Fletcher’s waistband during the scuffle. Fletcher told police he wrestled the gun away from Holland and returned fire.

It came to light Thursday that Fletcher reportedly bought marijuana from Holland and allegedly used counterfeit money.

Thursday’s preliminary hearing included testimony from a forensic pathologist from Spectrum Health and Matt Eide, who said he saw someone give Fletcher a gun at a party before the shooting.

Eide said didn’t know the man who originally had the gun.

“Did you see what he did with it when he pulled the gun out?” Asked the prosecution.

“He handed it to Thurman,” replied Eide.

Spray paint marks the scene of a murder at Lions Park in Bangor. (Feb. 6, 2017)

Eide testified he heard the man tell Fletcher “use it if you have to.”

Under oath, Eide said Fletcher told him two versions of the shooting while in jail, one in which he claimed self-defense and the other where Fletcher intentionally hid and shot Holland.

The judge also agreed to a new lawyer for Fletcher, after his lawyer asked to be excused from the case because of work involvement with a witness.

Fletcher remains in county jail for violating his probation. His next court hearing is scheduled for April 10.