It’s been more than two years since 58-year-old Rory Allen Gregory was arrested on charges — including second-degree attempted murder — after leading police on a high-speed pursuit that reportedly ended with Gregory crashing his car through the emergency room doors at Baxter Regional Medical Center.
Now, Gregory may not stand trial for all six felony charges he faces for his actions that day. Electronic court records indicate Gregory may not be held criminally liable for his behavior following a mental health evaluation.
Gregory’s attorney has filed a motion for acquittal and asked for a hearing on the matter. In the motion, defense attorney Ben Burnett noted Gregory underwent a psychological evaluation on April 22 of this year.
That evaluation apparently showed the evaluator did not feel Gregory was criminally liable for his behavior on Aug. 18, 2017, when he engaged in a pursuit with officers, nearly hit an officer who was standing near a road and ramming another officer’s vehicle.
Burnett says the hearing, during which attorneys will question the psychologist who performed the evaluation, is currently scheduled for Sept. 5. Many things can occur to change the date of such a hearing.
The current accusations against Gregory
The affidavit filed in the case alleges that on Aug. 18, 2017, Gregory reportedly struck the car of a Baxter County reserve deputy. That deputy called in the incident and the chase to catch Gregory was on.
Video of police chase involving Rory Gregory courtesy of Jeremiah Morris Wochit
As the chase moved from the county into Mountain Home, Gregory reportedly nearly hit Mountain Home police officer Josh Evans, who was standing at an intersection where authorities had laid down a spike strip in an attempt to stop Gregory.
In a second close call for law enforcement during the chase, Baxter County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brad Hurst was approaching Gregory’s vehicle when he noticed Gregory was aiming for Hurst’s patrol car.
Hurst took evasive action and then stopped his car. According to the affidavit, Gregory reportedly aimed for and struck Hurst’s patrol car in the right front, disabling the car.
As Gregory drove towards the front of the hospital, he nearly struck a pedestrian before nearly striking a patient who had just been released from the hospital and was being loaded into a car.
Gregory then allegedly drove up the sidewalk in front of the hospital’s emergency room doors, before driving through them and nearly striking yet another person.
Mountain Home police swarmed the vehicle, busting out the glass and disabling the car. Gregory was still not done and allegedly refused officers’ commands and actively resisted.
Officer Evans drive-stunned Gregory in his back. That did not stop Gregory who continued to fight, according to the affidavit. Baxter County deputy Mike Holland then deployed his Taser, firing two probes into Gregory’s back.
Holland’s Taser work reportedly allowed officers to gain control of Gregory, who was taken into custody.
Gregory’s criminal history
Gregory is currently in prison serving time for 14 different felony convictions from three different counties, including five felony convictions out of Baxter County.
He was sent to prison after admitting he stole an ATV and dragged Mountain Home police officer Larry Caruso, who was attempting to stop Gregory’s truck. Caruso had to fire his pistol into Gregory’s dashboard to get him to stop.
The amount of time Gregory will serve for violating his parole on those previous convictions is governed by a complex formula, along with records not accessible to the public. Electronic records from the Arkansas Department of Corrections indicate Gregory was first eligible for parole on his convictions back in April of 2017.
A terrible crime, a town divided
Included in Gregory’s lengthy criminal history that dates back to the mid-1970s, is a 1978 case that shocked the conscience of the community, and divided the town.
On March 27, 1978, Gregory, then 16, broke into a woman’s home. Once inside, according to court records, he shot the woman in the face and attempted to rape her, before fleeing.
As the case wound its way through the judicial system, it began to divide the town. In April 1978, Gregory’s attorney said he had three alibi witnesses who would testify Gregory was elsewhere when the crime occurred. His attorney asked for Gregory’s bond to be reduced from $50,000 to $25,000, also citing the teenager’s numerous ties to the community.
In arguing against the bond reduction, then-prosecutor John Crain noted the serious nature of the charges. Crain also argued that Gregory’s criminal career dated back to 1975, including an escape from a juvenile detention home in Pine Bluff.
Crain also argued Gregory’s parents could not control him, and the state had found several witnesses who would place Gregory at the scene of the crime. The victim in the case also would identify Gregory as the culprit, Crain told the court.
Gregory’s bond was reduced, however, and as the case moved through the fall, Gregory eventually accepted a plea bargain on Oct. 9, which would see him plead guilty to first-degree battery and attempted rape. In exchange for the plea, Crain recommended Gregory be sentenced to 20 years in prison, that he would serve at least one-third of that sentence, and that Gregory be sentenced under the Youthful Offenders Act guidelines.
The act allows a convicted offender to petition the court to have their record expunged.
The deal struck a nerve and touched off a firestorm in the community, with hundreds of Gregory’s supporters petitioning the court to accept Crain’s recommendation. Hundreds of other local residents signed a different petition, telling the judge they feared Gregory and wanted to see him locked up and punished to the extent of the law as an adult.
Two days after Christmas, 16th Circuit Judge Harrell Simpson handed down his ruling, a mixed bag that likely pleased no one. Simpson nullified the portion of the agreement calling for Gregory to serve at least one-third of the 20-year sentence, and denied Gregory’s motion to be sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act.
According to a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Gregory served a little more than 10 years and four months in state prison upon his conviction in the 1978 case.
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