Jurors met late into Wednesday night before finding a homeless Bryan man guilty of fatally beating a sex offender with a steel pole.
The panel of nine men and two women deliberated for about eight hours in the Brazos County Courthouse. Their verdict came during a tense moment in the courtroom.
As night fell and the jury hadn't reached a decision, lawyers on each side had begun discussions of their own. It's unclear whether they were negotiating a plea deal or any other arrangement. A knock on the jury room door indicating a verdict interrupted their talks.
Danny Grammer and the lawyers were called into the courtroom and District Judge Steve Smith read the decision around 8:40 p.m. Grammer showed no emotion as he stood with his hands clasped in front of him. He retired into a side room to speak with his lawyer while District Attorney Bill Turner turned and shook the hand of Dale Ellis' crying mother.
The punishment phase of the trial is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. Grammer could face up to a life sentence.
He entered a plea of insanity on the first day of the trial. The main focus of the six days of testimony wasn't whether Grammer killed 20-year-old Ellis -- both sides conceded that -- but what his state of mind was when he did.
Ellis, who was also homeless, was found in an abandoned downtown Bryan Laundromat in February 2009 with multiple large gashes on the front and back of his head.
Grammer told witnesses that he randomly encountered the man in the building and struck up a conversation. The pair knew each other, and it was well known in the homeless community that Grammer disliked Ellis for being a registered sex offender. Grammer was raped as a young child and told residents of a homeless shelter that he wanted to hurt Ellis, witnesses testified.
As they talked, witnesses testified, Ellis began to describe raping a 6-year-old girl and Grammer snapped. He beat Ellis repeatedly, evidence indicated, and left.
Jurors were asked to determine Grammer's mindset when he committed the crime, and lawyers on both sides called experts who gave conflicting opinions. To be successful, Grammer's lawyer needed to convince jurors that Grammer didn't know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the killing. If they found him insane, Smith could have ordered Grammer to enter a treatment facility.
Davis, the defense attorney, called a psychologist, Kim Arredondo, who testified that the killing was spurred by a post-traumatic stress disorder reaction. The pain Grammer carried from when he was raped was so strong that it caused him to enter a dissociative state when Ellis began to describe a similar crime, she said.
"What do you think that would do to a man that has been through what he has been through," Davis asked jurors during his closing argument. "He lost it. He was out of his mind."
Grammer told both psychologists that he blacked out and doesn't remember anything about his crime -- other than picking up the steel pipe and hearing it clang against the ground after he dropped it.
Randall Price, the psychologist called by prosecutors, said he believed Grammer's story. But, Price said, about a third of murderers block their crime from their memory. Forgetting such a traumatic event isn't unique, he said, and it doesn't mean Grammer was insane at the time of the murder.
Turner told the panel that common sense should make their decision clear. Grammer attempted to wipe clean the murder weapon after Ellis died and he lied to investigators in the aftermath of the killing, Turner said.
"Danny Grammer had a reason to be mad at the world," Turner said. "I bet if we look at all our lives there is a reason we can be mad at the world. But for us to survive, we have got to hold that in check." ..Source.. by MATTHEW WATKINS
Grammer Sentenced to 25 Years
A homeless Bryan man was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison after his murder conviction.
Danny Grammer was convicted late Wednesday in the February 2009 beating dath of Dale Ellis. Jurors deliberated almost eight hours before returning their verdict.
Under the sentencing guidelines, Grammer, 24, must serve at least half his sentence before he is eligible for parole, and will get credit for a year-and-a-half of time served.
Ellis’ body was found in a vacant Bryan building; both men were homeless at the time.
Grammer’s responsibility was not in question, but whether he was of sound mind at the time was.
Defense attorneys argued Grammer was criminally insane when he attacked Ellis because Ellis was a known sex offender and Grammer had been sexually abused as a child. ..Source.. by Chace Murphy