BROCKTON — Prosecutors said a 74-year-old Brockton preacher was killed with his own hammer during a violent confrontation with a Brockton landscaper, who was linked to the crime by DNA that authorities found in a Red Sox baseball cap left at the scene and on the bloodstained handlebar of Lee Harmon’s bike.
Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Jeremy Beth Kusmin outlined the allegations against Carlos R. Velazquez, 26, during his arraignment on a murder charge in Brockton District Court Thursday.
The court hearing was attended by some 20 friends and relatives of Harmon, including his widow, Francise.
Kusmin said Harmon was riding his bicycle to an adult daughter’s home to help install a shower curtain. As he often did, he brought some tools with him, this time including a hammer, the prosecutor said.
Around 9 p.m. on Aug. 20, Velazquez and Harmon encountered each other on Clinton Street in Brockton, and within moments Harmon lay on the ground, mortally wounded by blows to his head with the hammer, blows so ferocious that the tool broke into pieces, Kusmin said.
Witnesses reported hearing a crash and a commotion, including the sound of breaking glass, followed by an argument between two men. Kusmin said one witness interviewed by police recalled a younger man blaming the incident on the elderly man.
“If you never hit me with a hammer, none of this would have ever happened,’’ the witness recalled the younger man saying, according to Kusmin.
She said police discovered a baseball cap at the crime scene and Harmon’s bloodstained bike. Kusmin said DNA collected from the baseball cap and the bicycle’s handlebars belonged to Velazquez.
Harmon’s relatives gasped during Kusmin’s description of the crime, which appeared to upset Judge Ronald Moynihan, who ordered Velazquez held without bail.
“I can’t think of another word to use; it’s just absolutely shocking,’’ Moynihan said.
While noting that prosecutors do not have to provide a motive, Moynihan asked Kusmin if investigators have found some motive for the killing.
“We are still investigating,’’ Kusmin said. “But there is no apparent motive.’’
Kusmin also said that during questioning by police, Velazquez claimed to have been jumped by a group of Cape Verdean men in Brockton on the same night that Harmon was killed.
The prosecutor said that Velazquez went to Boston Medical Center for treatment of what he told medical staff was a blow to the back of his head with a hammer.
In brief comments, defense attorney William F. Sullivan did not argue for bail, saying he had just taken the case and had not been briefed in any detail about the evidence in the case.
Francise Harmon spoke with reporters after the arraignment.
“He was a good man,’’ she said describing her husband, the father of six adult children and grandfather.
She said she wanted Velazquez to receive the maximum punishment possible under Massachusetts law, life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
“They should put him behind bars for the rest of his life,” she said. “I want to know why he had to kill. Why?’’