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Motion for new trial filed in murder case

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By Stephen Lega

Christopher Gribbins was convicted of wanton murder for the death of David Litsey Jr. on July 17.
On July 22, Gribbins’ attorneys filed a motion for a new trial in Marion Circuit Court. Gribbins’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7 before Marion Circuit Judge Dan Kelly.
The jury recommended a 20-year sentence at the end of the trial.
Gribbins, 47, of 821 Dangerfield Road in Hodgenville was indicted for murder after Litsey, 22, was shot in the parking lot of Raywick Bar and Grill on Nov. 9, 2012. Gribbins owns the bar. Litsey was later pronounced dead at Spring View Hospital.
After a three-day trial, a jury found Gribbins guilty of wanton murder.
He was represented by attorneys Scott Hayworth and James Lowery of Lexington, and they filed the motion seeking a new trial.
According to the motion, they are asking Judge Kelly to grant "a new trial on grounds that he [Gribbins] was prevented from having a fair trial and that a new trial is required in the interests of justice."
Gribbins’ attorneys argue that jury instructions did not allow the jurors to consider “imperfect self-protection” as a possible defense for intentional murder, wanton murder or first-degree manslaughter.
The motion notes that the defense attorneys objected to this in chambers before the instructions were read to the jury and the Commonwealth objected that the instruction misstated Kentucky law. Gribbins’ attorneys argued that the instructions “gutted” the defense strategy of self-protection.
They also wrote that jury instruction number 4 combined the theories of intentional murder and wanton murder under a single instruction that was titled “Intentional Murder.” As a result, the jury believed they were finding Gribbins guilty of a lesser offense by finding him guilty of wanton murder, according to Gribbins’ attorneys.
They also argued that the jury’s short deliberation and decision to recommend the minimum sentence of 20 years further supports their view that the jurors thought wanton murder was a lesser charge.
Lastly, Gribbins’ attorneys argued that jury instruction 3 erroneously told the jurors to use the “reasonable person” standard when considering whether Gribbins was acting out of self-protection.
Gribbins’ attorneys concluded that the instructions lead the jury to find him guilty of wanton murder, where they otherwise may have found him guilty of a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter or reckless homicide.
“Any one of these grounds, individually or in combination, requires that a new trial be granted in this case,” the motion reads.
A civil case is still pending related to the shooting. David Litsey Sr. filed the civil complaint against Gribbins on July 24, 2013.
That complaint reads that Litsey Sr. is the administrator of his son’s estate and that Gribbins caused his son’s death through willful actions or negligence. Litsey Sr. is seeking a trial by jury, monetary and punitive damages against Gribbins, attorney fees and costs. Attorney Dawn Spalding of Lebanon is representing Litsey Sr. in this case.
Gribbins filed an answer to the civil complaint on Aug. 13, 2013. In this answer, Gribbins argued that Litsey Jr’s injuries were caused or brought about by his own negligence or by third parties over which Gribbins had no control.
On Sept. 20, 2013, Judge Kelly issued a stay in the civil case, postponing any action until the criminal case is resolved.