A Panama City man was given three Life sentences Tuesday after a jury found him guilty of killing one person and robbing two others in 2019, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Lagregory Grigges, 25, guilty of Felony First Degree Murder with a Firearm, and two counts of Robbery with a Firearm in the Dec. 7, 2019 shooting death of Eric Lynn Thomas. The defendant was also convicted of robbing two people in the home.
Prosecutor Peter Overstreet asked Circuit Judge Shonna Young Gay for the maximum sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life Statute – 3 Life sentences to be served consecutively. Gay heard testimony from both the defendant’s and victim’s families before announcing her sentence – the maximum.
“That was my uncle and when he was killed, that was the last of my heart and soul,” the victim’s niece told the judge. “I do forgive (the defendant) … but I don’t feel sorry for him and I want to see justice served because I will never, ever see my uncle again.”
Overstreet and co-prosecutor Jacob Cook presented evidence and witnesses – including several Panama City Police Department detectives and the co-defendant – proving that Grigges was the person who planned the robbery and fired 8 shots at the victim during a struggle in the living room.
Testimony showed Grigges and co-defendant Willie Lewis Whitsett, Jr. went to the victim’s home on East 7th Court intending to rob him of a safe they believed was in the home. The two burst into the home, armed, and demanded money from the victim and two people who were visiting. A woman was robbed of a small purse and another man of his wallet, but the victim ended up in a struggle with the defendants after saying there was no money.
The victim was pistol-whipped by the co-defendant and then, as he held onto the defendant’s leg from the floor, the defendant shot him multiple times in the back and both defendants fled.
Grigges testified on his own behalf, but under cross-examination by Overstreet repeatedly contradicted himself while claiming he was simply giving a friend a ride that day, didn’t go into the home and didn’t shoot anyone. He did, though, admit to Overstreet that he lied multiple times to police in an earlier statement after his initial arrest.
“If you were willing to lie to the police about all of this back then, what would stop you from lying here today?” Overstreet asked the defendant.
“What would I lie for?” the defendant replied.
“I don’t know,” Overstreet said, “You’re on trial for Felony First Degree Murder and two robberies. That’d be a pretty good reason to lie, wouldn’t it?”
“Yeah,” the defendant said.
The co-defendant has pled guilty to Second Degree Murder and Robbery with a Firearm, both punishable by up to Life in prison. He has not yet been sentenced.
For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 850-381-7454.