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Family struggled with grief as trial moved forward

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By Alice Du Pont

Constance Dupont was Bernard Hunter's little sister. He worried about her sometimes but was always confident that she could hold her own with anyone.

"They had to steal her. One on one she could handle herself with man or woman. That's why her nickname was Bear," said her brother.

But Dupont couldn't hold her own in the early morning hours of August 3, 2002. Someone shot her several times through the window of her apartment at 411 Main St., No. 23, in Havana.

"The last time saw my sister was the Friday before she was killed. I went by her place and she was on the phone arguing with someone. It was a bad argument; it was different. She was crying when she got off the telephone and said that people were saying that she was the police," Hunter said.

He said when he left her apartment he had a feeling of dread. After he left, Hunter said he started to turn around, go back and ask her to come home with him. He didn't. Wednesday afternoon outside of the courtroom where Hernandez Lopaz Daniels, the man accused of paying to have Dupont killed stood trial, Hunter said he should have gone back to get her.

"Growing up, we had a good time. We would get into trouble together, nothing really bad, but the kind that Mama would whip you for," he laughed.

His sister, Hunter said, was a good person who was much loved and has been missed tremendously since her death. Occasional family seafood dinners that included crabs and a few hands of the card game Bid Whist were her happiest times. According to Marsha Hunter, Dupont's sister-in-law, there is a void at those gatherings now. When they all get together, Dupont's unmistakeable laugh isn't heard.

"She had the kind of laugh you couldn't forget. It was loud and it was differrent. We loved to hear Constance laugh and she had the biggest, most beautiful smile. When she smiled, she showed all 32," she said.

Dupont loved her family, especially her grandmother Zora Mann and her grandson Jarral Meekins. Hunter said that at the time of her death, Dupont was spending most of her time taking care of Jarral so that her daughter could continue her education. Mann, however, died before she could see those accused of her death come to trial.

"She didn't talk too much about if. I think that she held it inside of her because it was too much for her to take," Hunter said.

Although it has taken six years for the case to come to trial, it is no less hard on the Dupont's daughter, La Sharka Jones, and other family members. Jones has been present at the trial, sometimes leaving when the description of the death became too graphic. Hunter said Jones doesn't want to discuss her feelings about her mother or the trial with the press.

Hunter carries Dupont's obituary in her wallet. It's been there since the funeral and during an afternoon recess from the trial she took it out to look at it and remember.

"This whole thing is bringing up a lot of bad memories. The place where she was killed (Joe's Apartments) has been torn down. I think that right after she was killed they shut the place down. I used to drive by and see her apartment. Now it been torn down and it's almost like her existence was erased," said Hunter.

Dupont's family will have another trial to sit through. The trial of the man accused of actually shooting Dupont, Fernando Taylor, will be set at a later date.

"One more trail and we'll have to hear it all over again. It's going to be hard,” Hunter said.