Livingston, Texas July 19, 2012: Defendant Justin Grubbs took the witness stand in Judge Robert Trapp's District Court. Grubbs claimed his shooting of three men was in self defense, and defense of his cousin.
Jury Finds Justin Grubbs Guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, LIVINGSTON, July 20, 2012 - A trial that lasted 4 days culminated in a verdict of guilty on all counts against 30 year old defendant Justin Grubbs of Livingston. Grubbs and his lawyer, Lonnie Knowles stood quietly as District Judge Robert Trapp read the verdicts that were handed to him. Grubbs is guilty of 3 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Defense Attorney Lonnie Knowles and Grubbs painted a picture of self defense, and Grubbs' defense of his cousin who was in a fight with other men at the sandbar in Goodrich. Grubbs testified from the witness stand that when he and 2 other men (one was his cousin, David) drove up to a group of people in a Ranger ATV, that his cousin got off of the ATV. Grubbs stated that when he killed the engine, "...all hell broke loose". Grubbs began looking for a weapon in the back of the Ranger (hoping to find a T post), but it had apparently been cleaned out. He stated that there was usually a knife in the glove compartment of the Ranger and that when he opened the glove compartment, there was a pistol. Grubbs grabbed the 9mm pistol. Another man from the group came at Grubbs. Grubbs pointed the pistol at the man and warned him. The man backed off. Grubbs stated that he would turn his attention back to his cousin and the man would start coming at him again so he fired a warning shot at the ground in front of the man. Again, when Grubbs looked back toward his cousin the man would come at him. Grubbs fired a total of 2 warning shots, but ultimately shot the man, then another man that was grappling with his cousin on the ground came at Grubbs and he shot that man, and yet another came at him and he shot that man (5 shots total). Grubbs said he was concerned about his cousin who had a neck injury from a previous accident, and that because of the injury he feared for is cousin's life. Defense Attorney Knowles stated to Grubbs, "...you just shot 3 people, how did you feel?"...Grubbs became emotional and stated that he felt "terrible" as he appeared to fight back tears. Knowles continued, "Why didn't you turn and just run?" Grubbs responded, "Because they would've killed my cousin". Grubbs stated that shooting them was necessary. The 3 men got back into the Ranger and sped away. Along the way back to his cousin's they stopped the Ranger. Grubbs used his cell phone to call the Polk County Sheriff's Office and tell them of what had transpired. He informed the dispatchers of the shootings and requested EMS personnel and police officers. Once Grubbs was at his cousin's residence, a short time later Sergeant William Jerry arrived and asked who the shooter was, Grubbs raised his hand to identify himself as the shooter. Sergeant Jerry then asked where the gun was; Grubbs showed him.
During cross examination, Prosecutor Lee Hon pointed out that Grubbs could not legally possess a firearm outside his home due to his criminal history (felony theft, DWI, and unlawful possession of a weapon in 2008). Hon stated to Grubbs that Grubbs was looking for a weapon before his cousin was even attacked, and that nobody in the other group even possessed a weapon of any kind. Hon stated that there were other people at the sandbar (including women and children) that were in danger from the shots being fired by Grubbs, and that perhaps the men were trying to get to Grubbs to disarm him. Hon then played a video taped interview that Grubbs had with Sergeant William Jerry in the patrol car after Grubbs was detained. In the interview, Grubbs never mentioned anything about his cousin's injury.
In closing arguments, Hon said to the jury that introducing a gun into a volatile situation was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Hon quoted a witness who testified that Grubbs' statement "This is going to be a fair fight" discredits Grubbs' claim that he was concerned for his cousin's safety (if Grubbs was okay with him being in a fight as long as it was a fair fight).
Defense attorney Knowles contended that Grubbs couldn't be a felon in possession of a firearm because Grubbs had no knowledge of the gun being the Ranger (until he opened the glove compartment). Knowles also made it clear to the jury that while nobody else had a deadly weapon in their hands, a fist is in fact a deadly weapon (alluding that deadly force was justified to save his cousin).
The jury came back with the verdict of guilty on all three counts after deliberating for less than two hours. Grubbs' punishment phase hearing will be carried out next week.
Defendant Justin Grubbs hugs family after he was found guilty of 3 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Justin Grubbs stands in cuffs after being found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (also pictured, Grubbs' lawyer, Lonnie Knowles of Houston).
Grubbs is led out of the courtroom to be transported to jail. Grubbs' defense attorney, Lonnie Knowles pictured at left.
Original Story Below
30 year old Justin Grubbs of Livingston (left) listens with his attorney as Prosecutor Lee Hon makes opening statements to a Polk County Jury in Judge Robert Trapp's District Court in Livingston on July 17, 2012.
Trial Underway for Man Who Allegedly Shot 3 People at Goodrich Sandbar, LIVINGSTON, July 17, 2012 - Shortly after 9am on July 17, 2012, the trial got underway for a Livingston man who allegedly shot 3 other men at a sandbar at the Trinity River in Goodrich. Things went down on the afternoon of May 30, 2010, when Justin Grubbs, (now 30), of Livingston went to the Goodrich Sandbar with two friends and were taking matters into their own hands for a situation that had already got out of control. Earlier, that afternoon, a man who was an apparent friend of Grubbs had been brutally assaulted by another man at the sandbar involving a dispute over the raping of a family member. Grubbs arrived with two other men after that situation had passed and an altercation flared up between Grubbs and his two friends, and the party of people that was with the earlier assailant who assaulted Grubbs' friend. By now, that man had left. Nonetheless, two fights broke out and Grubbs produced a 9mm pistol. According to Prosecutor, District Attorney Lee Hon, Grubbs stated to the people that this would be a "fair fight". Things continued to escalate and Grubbs allegedly shot three men. Two men were shot in the side, and one man was shot in the groin. Two of the men are reported to be permanently disfigured. After the shooting occurred with many other people present at the sandbar, calls were placed to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. When deputies from the Polk County Sheriff's Office arrived the sandbar was nearly empty. The men were taken to the hospital and Detectives Ricky Childers and Christy Allen arrived and began an investigation. Grubbs is being tried for 3 counts of aggravated assault and is facing up to 20 years in prison without the chance of parole. Grubbs' attorney opted not to make any opening statments to the jury. The trial could last all week.
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