Jurors opened their deliberations late Wednesday into murder charges against Anthony Grampsas in the December 2018 shooting death of Egerton Dover.
The state contends Grampsas, 20, of Decatur, drove Tyjuan Bruce and Curtis Hairston Jr. to Dover’s home in the 800 block of West Jefferson Street. Murder charges are pending against Bruce; Hairston died in a separate shooting in Decatur a month after Dover’s death.
Lawyers for both sides agreed in their closing remarks to the jury that Grampsas did not fire the gun that killed Dover. But the state asked jurors to convict Grampsas based on the state’s felony murder law.
Grampsas may be held liable for the killing because he planned or aided in the death which took place during a home invasion and robbery, prosecutor Tammara Wagoner told jurors.
The state has “no evidence he entered the house or is responsible for the physical act of pulling the trigger,” Wagoner said of Grampsas’ involvement. "He’s charged as an accessory.”
The shooting occurred after a gathering at a Normal apartment complex where Dover allegedly was expected to share marijuana he obtained earlier in the day in Champaign. His failure to share the drugs fueled the trip to his home, according to the state.
The circumstantial evidence against Grampsas includes surveillance video of a gray Nissan sedan similar to the one he had borrowed from his grandmother in early December 2018. Wagoner acknowledged the video does not show the identity of the occupants of the car, including the driver, or the license plate. But the route of travel from Lancaster Heights apartments to Dover’s home is evidence of the defendant’s role in the crime, said the prosecutor.
Wagoner also pointed to mismatched tires that were put on the car eight days after the shooting to replace those with about six months’ wear. The tire change was done to deter police from their efforts to investigate tire tracks found in the snow outside Dover’s home, said Wagoner.
In his closing, defense lawyer Steve Skelton argued that no one “other than God or Superman” could determine who was in the car after it left Lancaster Heights.
Skelton asked jurors to consider testimony from a witness who said she heard Grampsas talking to her son for 10 to 15 minutes at her home near Dover’s apartment sometime after her alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. Police were summoned to Dover’s home at 4:45 a.m.
The state’s theory that Grampsas was with the shooting suspects is based on “pure speculation,” said Skelton.
Jurors deliberated for about two and a half hours Wednesday before breaking for the night. They'll resume Thursday morning.
Dover’s death in December 2018 marked the end of the deadliest year in the Twin Cities for gun violence. Nine of the 11 homicides that year involved guns.
The 2018 deaths shared more in common than the use of firearms: All of the victims and those charged with killing them were in their teens or 20s at the time their disputes turned deadly.
As the trials for those accused in the shootings began to unfold this summer, authorities unveiled the gang connections and drug disputes behind some of the killings.
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