|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Grubbs convicted in 2010 sandbar shooting
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — After deliberating about an hour and 40 minutes a Polk County jury found Justin Lauren Grubbs guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting of three people on a sandbar in the River Lakes Estates Subdivision near Goodrich on May 30, 2010. Grubbs was charged with shooting Christopher Sanders, Jason Board and David Winkle. Sanders and Board had to taken by helicopter to critical care hospitals for treatment after the shooting, District Attorney Lee Hon said after Thursday’s verdict. Sentencing is set for the afternoon of Sept. 5 in the 411th District Court before Judge Robert Hill Trapp. Hon said the shooting resulted from a chain reaction situation. Grubbs, his cousin Lauren David Hill of Goodrich and a third man went down to the sandbar on a mule looking for a group of guys who had assaulted Hill’s half-brother earlier in the day. Another victim of the earlier assault told the Grubbs and the others that “it was bad down there.” Hon said the lesson to be learned from the situation is “not to take the law into your own hands.” “There were so many opportunities along the way where this deal could have be avoided,” Hon said. The series of incidents started with a pretty severe assault, but neither the man who committed the assault nor the victim were on the sandbar when the second fight and the subsequent shooting took place. Grubbs and the other two men went to the sandbar looking for “curbside justice.” During the trial, witnesses testified that the mule they were driving had handgun in the glove box and a 12-gauge shotgun in a case secured on the gunrack on the back of the mule. During the fight, Grubbs took the handgun from the glove box. According to some witnesses’ statements he got the gun to come to Hill’s aide, who was on the ground getting kicked and punched. Once Grubbs produced the gun, the victims tried to take it away from him, and he began firing. After the jury was dismissed, Hon called two of the victims to testify about their injuries, recovery and medical expenses since they may not be able to return for the sentencing hearing in September. Hon also said there are some parallels between this case and the Trayvon Martin trial pending in Florida — although in this case the victim and all the admitted combatants in the assaults are white. Texas’ “Castle doctine” is slightly different from Florida’s stand your ground law. Since 2007, Texas law provided citizens and visitors who are not involved in criminal activity have no duty to retreat from aggressive, assaultive or threatening behavior. Prior to 2007, there was a duty to retreat unless you were in your home or some other location that could be consider your “castle”, Hon said. “Prosecutors have been considered that it can lead to some difficult situations where violence can be avoided,” Hon said. In Grubbs’ case, he was engaging in criminal activity as soon as he took possession of the firearm since he had a prior felony conviction. “It would have been more difficult to prosecute, had he not been a convicted felon — but I believe the jury would have still found him guilty. This sandbar has been a dangerous place. Johnny Ray Bogany was killed there a couple of years ago. The place has a bad reputation. The defendant told Capt. (Rickie) Childers in his original interview that fights were very common. The penalty range for a felony conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon ranges from two to 20 years, according to Hon. Grubbs is not eligible for probation due to the nature of the offense and his prior felony conviction.