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September 25, 2015

Jury finds Gregg guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Defendant Carroll “Tootie” Gregg Jr. arrives at court Monday morning for the start of his trial.
Junior Jordan Montero Sanchez, 23, died of a rifle shot to his torso — piercing his heart and a lung — early the morning of June 6, 2014, as he pulled onto Conde Road from the driveway to Mr. Gregg’s apartment. New to the job, Mr. Sanchez that night for the first time drove the tow truck on a vehicle repossession.
This is a circumstantial evidence case. Nobody is an eyewitness to how the gun went off and where.
— Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher
Gregg Murder Trial
• What: Fatal shooting early Friday, June 6, 2014, at 10038 Conde Road near Marshall

• Victim: Junior Jordan Montero Sanchez, 23, a part-time tow truck driver from Hyattsville, Md.

• Defendant: Carroll Edward “Tootie” Gregg Jr., 53, a landscaper from Marshall.

• Charges: First-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in death and use of a firearm to commit a felony.

• Maximum sentence for conviction: Life in prison.

• Defense attorneys: Blair Howard and Christopher T. Whelan of Warrenton.

• Prosecutors: Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher and Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul R. Walther.

• Judge: Herman A. Whisenant Jr.

• Trial: Started Monday, Sept. 21, in Fauquier County Circuit Court. Jury deliberations began at 10:50 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The jury Friday afternoon found Carroll E. “Tootie” Gregg Jr. guilty of involuntary manslaughter after 9-1/2 hours of deliberation.

Mr. Gregg, 53, faced potential conviction of first-degree murder in the June 2014 shooting of Junior Jordan Montero Sanchez, who repossessed his pickup truck.

The jury also found Mr. Gregg guilty of shooting into an occupied vehicle.

After further deliberation Friday afternoon, the jury recommended the maximum, 10-year sentences on each conviction.

The jury found him innocent of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, Mr. Gregg would have faced a sentence of 25 years to life.

The judge will impose Mr. Gregg’s sentence on Monday, Dec. 14. He remains in jail.


2:15 p.m. Friday update

Just before 2 p.m., the jury sent another written question to the judge.

“Could you provide a definition of circumstantial evidence,” Herman A. Whisenant Jr. said, reading the folded piece of yellow legal paper.

The attorneys and the judge agreed to direct jurors to an instruction Judge Whisenant provided before deliberations began.

The 12 jurors have entered their 10th hour deliberations in a windowless room on the circuit courthouse’s lower level.

Click here for one definition of circumstantial evidence.


12:20 p.m. Friday update

The judge called a lunch recess at 12:10 p.m. Friday.

The jury has deliberated for eight hours without reaching a verdict.

On Friday morning at 9:16, jurors asked to examine the rifle used in the fatal shooting last summer. They returned the weapon at 9:56 a.m.

Deliberations will continue at 1:15 p.m. Friday.


5 p.m. Thursday update

The judge sent the jury home for the evening just before 5 p.m. Thursday, after almost five hours of deliberation.

At 4:45 Wednesday, the jurors sent the judge a question on a folded piece of yellow legal paper:

“Does the use of a firearm mean shooting or does use mean brandishing?”

The judge said he would meet with the prosecution and defense teams to agree on an answer before the jury continues deliberations at 9 a.m. Friday.

The question apparently deals with one of three charges against the defendant: Use of a firearm in a felony.

He also faces charges of first-degree murder and shooting into an occupied motor vehicle, resulting in death.

• • •

“He was scrambling . . . . He just killed somebody and he ran out of time,” the lead prosecutor said Thursday morning in his closing argument during the first-degree murder trial of Carroll “Tootie” Gregg Jr.

Of video-recorded comments Mr. Gregg made in a holding cell at the Fauquier sheriff’s office, Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher said: “Here’s a guy coming to grips with the horrible thing he’s done.”

At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, a Fauquier County Circuit Court jury began deliberating Mr. Gregg’s fate in the June 2014 shooting death of Junior Jordan Montero Sanchez, 23.

The defendant claims his hunting rifle fired accidentally as Mr. Sanchez repossessed his pickup truck just after midnight in remote, Northern Fauquier.

The prosecution charges he took aim and fired at the tow truck as it pulled onto Conde Road.

“This is a circumstantial evidence case,” Mr. Fisher said in his closing. “Nobody is an eyewitness to how the gun went off and where.”

The jury heard from 22 prosecution witnesses and four for he defense during 2-1/2 days of testimony, starting Monday.

Mr. Fisher said the defendant’s statements — including, “I’m going to jail,” about two hours after the shooting — reflect an “awakening.”

Lead defense attorney Blair Howard said his client made no attempt to hide the hunting rifle, which deputies found propped against the back, outside wall of his garage apartment.

“If you are angry . . . and want to kill someone, you are going to use all those bullets in the gun,” Mr. Howard said of three rounds that remained in the rifle.

The prosecutor argued that Mr. Gregg knew the pair of tow truck drivers had come to repossess his vehicle, something that had taken place twice before for loan defaults.

“He was angry, ugly and malicious about it and wasn’t going to let it happen a third time,” Mr. Fisher said.

But, Mr. Howard argued that the prosecution offered no evidence of malice or anger toward the men who came to repossess Mr. Gregg’s 2004 GMC Sierra, under an order from the CashPoint title loan office in Warrenton.

The prosecutor and defense attorney argued about the conclusion of FBI experts who produced a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation of the shooting.

The prosecution contends it proves Mr. Gregg’s gun could not have fired from a low position, after he fell while running downhill toward the tow truck, as the defendant claimed.

Mr. Howard, who call his own expert witness, faulted the FBI’s methods and said they failed to accurately represent the placement of the tow truck.

“They cooked up a diagram that is not in any evidence,” the defense attorney said.

The number of shots fired also represented a point of disagreement.

A neighbor testified she heard two shots.

Called as a defense witness, Alex Marin testified that he heard only one shot as he worked with Mr. Sanchez that night.

Mr. Howard called Mr. Marin “the most credible, consistent witness you have heard in this trial.”

But, Mr. Fisher stressed that one bullet killed Mr. Sanchez and that the discrepancies of witnesses’ testimony of one shot versus two didn’t matter.

He also noted that the defendant emerged from the woods, wearing boots, when deputies reached the scene. Mr. Gregg told investigators he ran barefoot from his apartment, thinking someone had stolen his truck.

Neighbor Wanda Creel testified that she saw a flashlight making sweeping motions around the shooting scene just after midnight June 6, before deputies arrived.

Despite intense searches, deputies never found a shell casing at the scene.

Mr. Gregg got indicted for first-degree murder, which carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

But, in his instructions before deliberations, Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. also gave the jury options that include verdicts of innocence or guilt on lessor charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Judge Whisenant gave the jurors a lunch break at 12:25 p.m. Wednesday. Deliberations will continue at 1:30.
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homeward611 · September 26, 2015 at 9:40 pm
Yea, gotta call this cold blooded murder, for what my opinion is worth. This guy obviously should not have had this truck if he wasn't paying for it. EVERYONE knows if they don't pay for their house or car, the bank will have to take it back. It is how the world goes round. This guy came out super dooper mad because he was going to lose his truck. He came out with a gun because....wait for it... he planned on shooting someone. AND he has a smile on his face in that picture...soo remorseful for his "accidental" shooting. Death sentence...
nova_gjones · September 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm
Well a jury did not see it. Yes, sad for Mr. Sanchez, going onto someones property and taking a vehicle at night with out calling does have risk.
Richard13 · September 26, 2015 at 11:41 am
Sad for the family of Mr. Sanchez. Gregg was a bully way back in junior high school. Too bad some people never change. This was murder, plain and simple.
nova_gjones · September 25, 2015 at 4:02 pm
I think manslaughter is a just verdict. I just could not see a verdict for murder but manslaughter seems a fair verdict. I just could not see a verdict for murder.
nova_gjones · September 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm
I suspect that he will not be found "Guilty". In my opinion, 1)the act of coming in the middle of the night, in the dark, 2) taking property, without calling before hand, and 3) Not identifying who and why the property was being removed, will lead the jury not to convict the suspect. I might be wrong but that is my opinion.
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