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Man gets probation in hospital ruckus

STORY BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
Photo: Judge Cynthia Cox

A handicapped Seagrove man who physically attacked a sheriff’s deputy by grabbing his crotch during a ruckus at Indian River Medical Center was sentenced last week to 12 months’ probation in a plea deal that reduced his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Despite the reduced sentence, John Logan Gray, 48, of 1790 Coral Way South, attempted to re-litigate the case at the last minute at his Jan. 8 hearing, arguing unsuccessfully that the period of probation he had agreed to as part of the plea bargain should be waived.

“Your Honor, I’ve never been in trouble,” Gray said as he tried to sway Judge Cynthia Cox. “I have a prosthetic leg. What happened that night is so discombobulated.¬†

“If you could only see the video of what happened that night at the hospital and how I was treated.”

Cox asked Gray why, in that case, he hadn’t pleaded “not guilty.”

“I didn’t want to roll the dice on a felony,” Gray responded. “I’m in constant pain since my accident. My back is held together by 33 screws and rods.”

Cox quickly interrupted him.

“That’s neither here nor there,” she said. “I accepted your plea in October. I told you then that once you accepted a plea deal you can’t come back and try to change the terms. This is a negotiated plea that you agreed to.”

Gray was originally charged with battery of a law enforcement officer, a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum of five years in prison. He pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of battery and disorderly intoxication.

¬†According to the Indian River County Sheriff’s arrest affidavit, Gray, who is missing his right leg, went to the Indian River Medical Center Emergency Room to seek treatment on March 8, 2018.

While in the waiting room, Gray became belligerent, yelling profanities at the hospital staff within earshot of other patients and children, demanding to be seen immediately, the affidavit noted.

After Gray was called by the emergency staff to see a doctor, he grabbed Deputy Chad Sharpeta’s crotch as he walked past him. Sharpeta was on duty in the ER that evening, providing security, according to sheriff’s office reports.

Sharpeta pushed Gray off of him and ordered him to keep his hands to himself. He then allowed Gray to proceed and be seen by the doctor.

Once in the back, Gray requested that the doctor prescribe him Dilaudid, a powerful synthetic narcotic classified as an opioid that is used to relieve moderate to severe pain.

When asked to return to the waiting room before receiving the drug, Gray became impatient and began screaming. He then left the ER, refusing further medical attention and making his way to the parking lot.

At that point, Sharpeta and Deputy Quinton Janetty, who had been called to the hospital after Gray attacked Sharpeta, arrested Gray for battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct.

He spent two days in jail before he was released on a $2,500 bond.

Seven months later, Gray accepted the deal offered by Assistant State Attorney Steven Wilson, pleading ‘no contest’ to the reduced charge during an October hearing. At the time, Gray requested, and received permission from Cox and Wilson, to delay his sentencing so that he could travel to New York for three months and care for his father who was undergoing chemotherapy.

During his sentencing, Gray expressed no remorse for his behavior. Instead, he blamed deputies and hospital staff for mistreating him and causing the confrontation.

He did not explain how he was mistreated.

Gray told Cox that law enforcement and hospital staff should be required to undergo training so that they learn “how to deal with people like me.”

His comments drew a quick rebuttal from Wilson, who said Gray’s attack on the deputy was unprovoked.

Cox also informed Gray that law enforcement and hospital staff do receive regular training on how to respond to a wide range of people and circumstances.

In addition to being sentenced to 12 months’ probation, Gray is required to pay $895 in court fees. He must also successfully complete an anger management program.