Murder charge against paralyzed suspect sent to Loudon grand jury
Bob Fowler-News Sentinel
LOUDON — A man accused of the Christmas Eve killing of a friend had a first-degree murder charge bound over to the Loudon County grand jury following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Four days after Cory M. Brown's shooting death, suspect Ronald Gregory Grizzle shocked jailers at the Loudon County Detention Center by suddenly somersaulting inside his cell, landing on the back of his head and neck, and paralyzing himself.
Grizzle, 49, came to court in a wheelchair during the hearing before Loudon County General Sessions Judge Henry Sledge Jr., 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson said.
Grizzle was returned to a Tennessee Department of Correction special-needs center in Nashville after the hearing, the prosecutor said.
Johnson said "numerous family members and friends" of the victim were in court for the hearing, and they wore T-shirts with Brown's photo.
Brown had lived for several months in a camper beside the Clinchview Drive home that Grizzle shared with his father, Ronald W. Grizzle. The home is near the Loudon-Roane county line. The father said his son has a mental disorder and had stopped taking his medication.
Brown was shot one time in the face with a handgun while both men were outside the Grizzles' home. Authorities said Grizzle admitted to the shooting.
The incident that led to Grizzle's paralysis was captured on the Loudon County jail's video camera system. Grizzle had been in an isolation cell and was being regularly monitored.
After noticing blood on Grizzle's wrist, a jailer asked for another officer and summoned a nurse.
"Without any warning, he does a forward flip and lets his head hit the concrete," Loudon County Sheriff's Office Lt. Patrick Upton said shortly afterward.
Authorities have called the incident highly unusual.
"The entire incident, as bizarre as it sounds, was self-induced," Johnson said.