Ronald Gregory Grizzle pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder nearly five years after the death of 27-year-old Cory M. Brown in Lenoir City.
Grizzle was sentenced to 15 years at 100 percent with a possible 15 percent sentence reduction credit. The court has recommended he serve his sentence at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility.
“He’s been in continuous custody since Christmas Eve of 2015,” Russell Johnson, 9th Judicial District attorney general, said. “He will not receive credit for the time spent at UT hospital or when he was furloughed for medical visits, but otherwise the time he spent in TDOC custody pre-trial ... he’ll get credit for that and the time he spent in the jail as well.”
Grizzle was initially charged with first-degree murder in 2015 after shooting Brown at a residence in the 300 block of Clinchview Drive near the border of Loudon and Roane counties. He admitted to the shooting during multiple interviews with police at the scene.
Four days after his arrest, he was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center after sustaining injuries to his neck and head while at Loudon County Jail. Grizzle was found after he allegedly jumped in the air on purpose, flipped and landed on the jail’s concrete floor.
The plea agreement was reached over the weekend, Johnson said.
“They had him evaluated initially, the best of my recollection is there was some indication of insanity and possibly even incompetency,” Johnson said. “We had the state’s expert to evaluate and counter that and that information got back to them. They had to concede through their experts after a second look that he was sane at the time and that he was competent to stand trial. Then last week when the defense finally gave us some further records we found about ... the stipulation, the long history of schizophrenia relative to the treatment with Dr. (Robert) Albiston, whose office is literally there in Kingston right at the same complex as our office. Albeit he’s retired, he still saw him up until right before his happened.
“So a different expert, Dr. (William) Lefton, took a look at it and talked about the aspects of him even though he was competent and even though he was sane, he could not perform the specific intent required of first-degree murder. So we had second-degree murder — possibly even voluntary manslaughter — based on what Bob (Edwards, assistant district attorney) was saying about his demeanor the night before — the agitation, getting worked up about Cory not leaving when asked to. So that caused us to engage in some 11th-hour negotiations that resulted in a second-degree plea of 15 years.”
Grizzle’s jury trial would have been the first at Lenoir City Municipal Building.
Family and friends of Brown were present for the plea.
“It gives me a little bit of peace of mind knowing that he’s not out amongst the public because that was my concern that the jury would feel sorry for him thinking that he’s a quadriplegic but he’s not,” Therese Mynatt, Brown’s mother, said. “He can stand, he can use his arms and his hands, they’ve already told me that. ... I was just really afraid that they would take pity on him and kind of let him roll out of here with time served.”
Johnson hoped Tuesday served a way for closure to the family.
“Hopefully this is Cory Brown’s day in court, so to speak,” Johnson said. “The family — his mom, his sisters, his friends, his family — got to hear Greg Grizzle say, ‘I did it. I’m guilty. I’m pleading guilty. I’m responsible,’ through the plea agreement, so that’s good. For the mother and the friend to get up — and to be able to tell how this has impacted the family, hopefully that was cathartic for them. I know they would have rather had a longer sentence. Taken into his condition, you don’t like to speculate, but he’s in a pretty way physically and I would suggest probably mentally, too, at this point. I’m glad this day is here and will soon pass for the family of Cory Brown.”
Grizzle was represented by public defenders Kim Nelson and Harold Balcom.
“I appreciate the hard work and time devoted to this difficult case by both sides,” Nelson said. “Our office through negotiations with the district attorney general’s office resolved this matter over the weekend. I believe justice was served and I am pleased that the families will be spared the experience of sitting through a trial.”