Attorney gives warning for suspect in vehicle death case

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 05:00 PM

The attorney for a Henderson man charged in the Jan. 27 vehicle death of a child warned in court documents obtained this week that his client is suicidal.

A medical examiner’s report and a police report present details on the death of 5-year-old Jayden Chad Stokes, who was struck along with his father by a 1988 GMC truck driven by 47-year-old Vincent Eugene Gregory.

Gregory is facing four felony charges.

According to court documents, jail personnel were the first to notice agitation on Gregory’s part and reported it to his attorney, Euan Bagshawe. The attorney met with Gregory on Feb. 11 and said his client expressed suicidal intentions.

Bagshawe, in pursuing Gregory’s defense, filed a motion for an investigator and an accident reconstructionist to be assigned to the case. He also noted prosecutors upgraded the charge against Gregory to second-degree murder.

A second-degree murder charge appears on the docket for Gregory along with felony death by vehicle, felony serious injury by vehicle, driving while impaired and driving while license revoked.

The medical examiner’s office confirmed blunt force trauma to the head as the cause of death for Jayden Stokes, “who was with his father on the sidewalk one block from his house.”

The incident took place in the 600 block of East Montgomery Street.

The statement included information provided by police that the truck driven by an intoxicated driver made an abrupt left turn, collided with a telephone pole, then went onto the sidewalk, killing Jayden Stokes instantly and dragging his father, Richard Thomas “Chad” Stokes, about 15 feet before stopping.

Police said witnesses told them the truck traveled an estimated 50 miles per hour and never applied brakes.

Jayden Stokes had no pulse and only a feint heartbeat at the scene, according to the medical examiner’s report, and he was transported to Maria Parham Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

According to the medical report, he had damage to his head and multiple abrasions.

The report by the Henderson Police Department included a diagram showing the truck making a hard-left jackknifing action from the leftward bend in East Montgomery Street, leaving the roadway and going into the path of the sidewalk.

“The suspect drove around the curve near Harrison Avenue and lost control of his vehicle,” Officer Chris Martin wrote.

Martin found Gregory weeping while wandering the area, his gait swaying and his speech was slurred and he had red glassy eyes, according to the report. There was an odor of alcohol about his breath and clothing, Martin added.

Martin quoted him as saying, “Yeah, I was the one who was driving.”

“I determined the subject, Vincent Gregory, to be impaired,” Martin wrote in the report. “The child died as a result of his injuries.”

Searching the vehicle, police found beer bottles, 13 packets of suboxone medication, numerous red paint chips, a cell phone and documents.

Richard Stokes, 22, received treatment at Duke University Medical Center.

Gregory remains jailed on more than $1 million bond according to court records, and he is scheduled to appear in Vance County Superior Court March 19 for further hearing of motions and any possible plea deal if an offer materializes.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.