Man who threatened judge, hurt deputy sentenced
WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County man suffering from dementia must serve prison time for threatening a judge and striking a Sheriff’s Office deputy with a vehicle before fleeing arrest in 2016.
Judge Clark A. Ritchie sentenced William Walter Grim Jr., 62, in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday to five years in a penitentiary for committing crimes of obstruction of justice, violating a protective order by stalking as a second offense within five years, assault and battery on a law enforcement officer and eluding.
Specifically, Ritchie sentenced Grim to 12 months, all time suspended, for obstruction of justice; 180 days with 120 days suspended, leaving the mandatory minimum of 60 days to serve for violating a protective order as a second offense in five years; five years with two months suspended for eluding law enforcement and five years, all suspended, for assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.
Ritchie ordered Grim to complete five years of supervised probation upon his release from incarceration and to have no contact with the victim. The judge also imposed a two–year protective order against Grim.
“I first want to note that these facts are aggravated,” Ritchie said. “I do take into account that your criminal history has sort of hopped up, for lack of a better term, later in life, but it has been one that has been violent. You have a previous domestic assault and battery, a previous violating a protective order in 2016 as well as this incident where you actually struck a police officer with a vehicle.
“Furthermore, you have again been found in violation of a protective order within five years – in this case much quicker than that, within a couple of years with behavior that is also disturbing and certainly unsettling for this court,” Ritchie added.
An agreement reached in April between one of Grim’s lawyers, Allison Neal, and the commonwealth called for the defendant to enter Alford pleas to the charges by which he maintained his innocence but feels that pleading guilty remains in his best interest. The agreement also capped the time the defendant would serve for the Shenandoah County charges at five years. The four charges to which Grim pleaded guilty carry a maximum total punishment of 20 years. The agreement allowed parties to ask the court to sentence Grim within the five-year window.
A grand jury had indicted Grim on charges of violating a protective order by stalking on Aug. 5, 2016; obstruction of justice and stalking on Aug. 16, 2016; eluding, obstruction of justice, assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and driving too fast for road conditions on Aug. 17, 2016. In exchange for Grim’s pleas, the court dismissed his remaining charges of obstruction of justice, stalking and driving too fast for road conditions.
Grim’s attorney Michael Araj asked the court to sentence his client to probation with no time of incarceration. Araj argued that while experts found Grim competent to stand trial, the defendant suffers from dementia. Grim also underwent five sessions to determine competency. The defendant also spent more than two years at Western State Hospital since his arrest while awaiting trial on charges in Augusta County. A judge in Augusta County Circuit Court gave Grim credit for the time spent in the hospital, leaving the defendant probation with no active sentence to serve.
“This simply isn’t the 1800s anymore,” Araj said. “We don’t incarcerate people for having significant, mental health issues. … It took a very long time to get Mr. Grim, from the time of his arrest to the point that he was competent enough to enter his pleas, and once he was competent, he (took responsibility). Doesn’t remember much of it.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky asked the court to sentence Grim to the maximum time under the agreement, noting the severity of the crimes. Strecky also argued that Grim spent time at a hospital, not in jail, and should serve an active penitentiary sentence.
“Part of the reason for the competency evaluations is that Mr. Grim is able to remain in a mental health institution until such time that medical professionals determine he’s able to stand trial and he’s able to understand the nature and consequences of what he’s facing before this court,” Strecky said.
“It is not the 1800s,” Strecky added. “We don’t punish people for mental health issues. We give them time in a mental health facility to see if they can be rehabilitated and see if there’s any restorative action that can take place. Those things have all taken place, and there’s now a medical professional and mental health professional that say this case can go forward.”
Authorities accused Grim of violating a protective order by stalking his wife when a deputy found him parked near a nursing home in New Market where she worked on Aug. 5, 2016. Grim’s wife had petitioned the court for the protective order.
A Sheriff’s Office deputy responded around 3 p.m. Aug. 16, 2016, to a report of a phone call about threats. Grim had called the Shenandoah County Emergency Communications Center and told them to pass on a message to Judge Kevin Black. According to court documents, Grim’s message was: “If my misses is out with someone else that he is in trouble because he is the one that signed the protective order and that’s not a threat, it is a promise.”
Deputies found Grim that evening, placed him under arrest and served him with two misdemeanor warrants. Law enforcement officers saw Grim on Aug. 17 and investigators had a felony warrant for his arrest at that time. Officers found Grim sitting in his vehicle in a parking lot. Law enforcement agents approached his vehicle, and an investigator asked him to step out. Grim responded by stating “I went to jail last night. I’m not going tonight.” Grim then fled the parking lot, striking an investigator in the lower left leg before leading law enforcement officers on a pursuit south on Interstate 81, according to court documents.
Strecky told Ritchie that law enforcement agents in Augusta County eventually stopped Grim, but the defendant continued to resist arrest.
Ritchie sided with the prosecutor and sentenced Grim to the maximum allowed under the agreement. Ritchie noted when imposing the sentence that Grim’s offenses were serious and dangerous.
Online records indicate Grim tried to buy a firearm while the subject of a protective order on Aug. 21, 2016, in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County. A judge in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County General District Court found him guilty of the misdemeanor on Nov. 2, 2017, and sentenced him to six months in jail, all time suspended. The court dismissed Grim’s other charge of making a false statement on an application to buy a firearm, a Class 5 felony.