Jury finds Grimes not guilty of assault

As of Tuesday night, Joshua Grimes was still in prison and newly convicted of several crimes. But assault wasn’t among them.

Following about a day of testimony, Cumberland County jurors spent several hours Tuesday deliberating the charges against the Lower Frankford Township man. He had been accused of deliberately backing his Ford Explorer toward a state trooper following a high-speed chase in November 2008.

The jury found Grimes guilty of fleeing and eluding law enforcement in a manner that endangered law enforcement officers, but not while DUI.

He was also found guilty of two counts of reckless endangerment and one of resisting arrest.

But it was the not-guilty verdicts, on the charges of aggravated and simple assault, that drew a quiet “Yes!” from Grimes’ mother, who was present throughout the trial.
Grimes himself did not testify and showed little emotion during the proceedings.

*Other charges*
President Judge Edgar Bayley turned in a similarly mixed decision on four lesser charges that were left to him.

Tracking the jury’s decision on the fleeing charge, he said, he found Grimes not guilty of DUI and exceeding the speed limit by 20 mph or more.

However, he found Grimes guilty of driving without headlights and disregarding traffic lanes.

Fleeing and eluding is a third-degree felony. All the other counts Grimes was convicted of are misdemeanor or summary charges.

*Grimes’ attorney, Timothy Barrouk, noted immediately following the verdicts that his client has been in prison for about eight months. In light of the verdict, he asked that Grimes’ $100,000 bail be reduced.*

Bayley said he would consider the matter and hold a hearing on it later.
*”I think that the jury got this one right,” Barrouk said afterward. “Josh from the beginning admitted that he ran from police, but he said from the beginning that he didn’t try to harm anyone.”*

*He said no decision has been made on whether to file a civil lawsuit stemming from the shots police said they fired trying to stop Grimes, one of which hit him in the torso.*

*Reaction*
Testimony Tuesday centered on Trooper Mark Gray, who interviewed Grimes the day after the incident. He said Grimes assumed he was one of the officers involved and told him, “I didn’t try to run you over – I didn’t know you were behind me.”

He noted that Grimes also told him he had been drinking beer all day and fled because he knew there were warrants for his arrest and he didn’t want to go to prison without seeing his 8-month-old daughter again.

“We respect this verdict as we respect all jury verdicts,” District Attorney David Freed said afterward.

He noted that juries have to base their decisions on the evidence before them, and that prosecutors “had some major issues with the blood evidence involving Hershey Medical Center that hampered our presentation.”

“The jury did recognize that the defendant illegally refused to submit to the authority of the police,” Freed added. “I ruled after the shooting that the police acted appropriately in using force to protect themselves.

“I believed then and believe now that my conclusion was correct. But that is a different issue than the jury had to consider. Win or lose, we believe in our system and trust in our juries.”

*The story so far*

State police at Carlisle filed charges including aggravated assault and DUI against Joshua Michael Grimes after an incident on Nov. 30, 2008.

Grimes, 27, of the 500 block of Opossum Lake Road, Lower Frankford Township, was accused of fleeing a roving DUI checkpoint on Route 11.

Police said Grimes led Cpl. Daniel Diehl and Trooper Rodney Fink on a high-speed chase for more than 10 minutes before they stopped him.

Fink had gotten out of the cruiser to approach Grimes and was behind Grimes’ red Ford Explorer when Grimes shifted in reverse and appeared about to run over Fink, police said.

Both officers shot – Diehl at a tire and Fink at Grimes – and one bullet hit Grimes in the side of the torso. Neither officer was injured, and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed later ruled their shots were justified.

Grimes was hospitalized for at least a month after the incident but was in court and appeared healthy during the proceedings. He was convicted in 2006 of a high rate of alcohol DUI in York County, for which he was sentenced to 43 days to six months in prison.

Grimes has been in Cumberland County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail since being released from the hospital.