Gregory’s case at front of the line

Aug. 22, 2013 @ 07:36 PM

The second-degree murder case against Vincent Eugene Gregory, charged in the vehicle death of 5-year-old Jayden Chad Stokes, was the first murder case to be listed for a status conference hearing by Vance County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood.

Hobgood ordered the case to be heard in October. The judge on Wednesday announced in a court session his intent to work on the unbalanced murder caseload relative to Vance County in the Ninth Judicial District.

Conferences will have defendants and attorneys present, will include setting deadlines for progress and a date for trial that could include added trial weeks pulled from other counties in the district.

The 48-year-old Gregory, of 270 Sparrow Lane, Henderson, appeared briefly in court Thursday, and his case was removed from regularly scheduled hearings on matters of bond and plea offers as exceptional because of its scope and complexity.

Prosecuting the case is assistant district attorney Bill Griffin. On Thursday, he said he did not know of other cases on the status conference list yet other than Gregory, whose case management hearing was scheduled on the day after Hobgood’s announcement.

“So far, I don’t know of any others,” Griffin said. He added that an exact date for the status conference on the Gregory case has not been scheduled yet.

Gregory’s charges are from a crash on East Montgormery Street on Sunday, Jan. 27, that injured Jayden’s father, Richard Thomas Stokes, and killed the child as they walked to a park.

In addition to the second-degree murder and driving while impaired charges, Gregory is also charged with felony death by vehicle, felony serious injury by vehicle and numerous infractions of driving while license revoked.

Griffin in arguing for a $500,000 bond for the case last month said Gregory has 24 convictions on driving while license revoked or driving without a license.

In addition, Griffin said Gregory failed to appear in court and pay fines on multiple occasions previously. He also said Gregory has a previous charge of driving while impaired.

Griffin said a blood-alcohol test at Maria Parham Medical Center showed a toxicity level of 0.14 after the incident that killed Stokes. In North Carolina, a driver is deemed impaired at a level of 0.08 or higher.

Superior Court Judge Reuben Young on July 23 consolidated all bonds against Gregory to one set at $750,000, which was higher than the state’s request. Gregory remains jailed pending the October status conference hearing, which will be held in open court.

More evidence in the case remains with the State Bureau of Investigation for lab analysis.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.