Fauquier County, VA – January 28, 2015 – The defense attorney of accused murderer of 23 year old Repo Man, Junior Jordan Montero of Hyattsville, Maryland on June 6, 2014, has laid blame for the killing on the victim for breach of peace.
The veteran defense attorney representing Carroll Edward “Tootie” Gregg Jr., 53, a landscaper from Marshall, tried Wednesday to use business law to justify his client’s fatal shooting of a tow truck driver last summer in northern Fauquier County. Carroll E. “Tootie” Gregg Jr. will stand trial Feb. 17 for the alleged, first-degree murder.
Mr. Gregg fired a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle at the tow truck as it hauled away his 2004 GMC Sierra pickup from outside a garage apartment he rented on Conde Road southwest of Marshall.
Defense attorney Blair Howard argued Wednesday that Mr. Sanchez and Alex G. Marin, both of Hyattsville, Md., conducted “an unlawful and illegal repossession under Virginia law.” Vehicle title lender CashPoint on May 5 directed L and K Recovery LLC of Centreville to repossess Mr. Gregg’s truck.
On Aug. 30, 2013, he had surrendered the pickup’s title as collateral to borrow $1,010 from the CashPoint office in Warrenton, according to court documents. From September through May, Mr. Gregg made each of his $234 monthly payments late and incurred penalties, documents indicate.
His loan called for 12 payments and an annual interest rate of 249.6 percent. Interest on the one-year loan would total $1,802. But, Mr. Gregg paid the late fee each month. He also made his June payment on time — three days before the fatal shooting on Conde Road, Mr. Howard said.
Not shown during Wednesday’s hearing in Fauquier County Circuit Court, a video depicts some of the events leading to the shooting, the defense attorney said. The video shows two men arriving outside Mr. Gregg’s apartment just after midnight that Friday morning. According to Mr. Howard’s account:
• Mr. Marin broke into Mr. Gregg’s locked truck.
• The truck alarm started “blaring” and awakened Mr. Gregg.
• The defendant yelled out a window: “You better get the f— outta here!” • The tow truck pulled away with Mr. Gregg’s pickup.
“Then, the video cuts off,” the defense attorney said. “We don’t know why.”
Mr. Gregg, 53, allegedly grabbed his hunting rifle and ran barefoot across the property, attempting to intercept the tow truck before it covered the meandering, 250-yard-long driveway to Conde Road.
He fired two shots, one of them striking and killing Mr. Sanchez.
Mr. Gregg called the shooting “an accident” when sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Shores reached the scene about 20 minutes later, according to arrest documents. The defendant fell in a hole and his gun went off accidently, Mr. Howard said during a bond hearing last summer. But, in the last scheduled hearing before the jury trial, the defense attorney Wednesday suggested his client had a right to protect his property from unknown intruders who acted improperly.
“The contract between my client and CashPoint is very relevant,” Mr. Howard told Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. during a 45-minute hearing Wednesday morning. That contract and the Uniform Commercial Code stipulate how to handle disagreements and default, according to the defense argument.
“The contract defines what is a default,” Mr. Howard said. “It gives the right to repossess property in event of default. But, the contract says it must be done peacefully . . . without breach of the peace.”
Two men showing up unannounced just after midnight, seizing the pickup and setting off the alarm constituted breach of the peace, he added. When Mr. Gregg yelled at the two men, he registered his objection to the repossession, which should have ended the effort and sent the matter to court, Mr. Howard asserted.
But, Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Walther successfully argued that the repossession company and its employees acted properly. “What is breach of the peace? What are the facts?” Mr. Walther said. Of Mr. Gregg’s actions, the prosecutor added: “He doesn’t say, ‘Leave my truck alone.’ He doesn’t say, ‘No trespassing’.” The repossession men tried to leave the property after Mr. Gregg yelled at them, but the defendant “grabs a gun and starts chasing them,” Mr. Walther said.
The prosecutor called it premature to consider a finding of improper contract enforcement. Judge Whisenant agreed and said: “The court is not going to rule that it was an unlawful repossession. “The collateral was not invisible. It was sitting out in the open . . . . I can’t, as a matter of law, say it was breach of the peace, just going into the vehicle.”
The judge also wondered aloud: At what point did the two men complete the repossession? “Is 250 yards down the driveway complete? Five miles?” After the judge refused to rule it an improper repossession, Mr. Blair asked whether he could raise that question again at trial.
“Certainly, we’re not going to sanitize the evidence,” replied Judge Whisenant, suggesting he will give the defense some latitude. Prosecutors also have filed a motion to take the jury to the scene of the killing, because maps and photos fail to fully depict the sloping terrain and circumstances.
Judge Whisenant said he will consider that option after the jury hears the rest of the evidence next month. Mr. Gregg remains in the Winchester regional jail without bond.