A 19-year-old high school student stands accused of assaulting an elderly Moab man last week, sending him to a Colorado hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries he sustained during an alleged attack at his rental property.
Prosecutors have charged Gregory Dennel Williford III with “aggravated abuse of a disabled or elder adult (intentional)” and aggravated assault, based on allegations that he attacked an 82-year-old man on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and severely lacerated the man’s head. In addition to the two second-degree felonies, Williford faces misdemeanor charges of child abuse, lewdness involving a child, interference with an arresting officer and two counts of possession or use of a controlled substance.
Williford remains in custody in the Emery County Jail, where local inmates are being held as Grand County renovates its jail facility. He appeared in 7th District Court on Tuesday, Feb. 14, via a teleconference video and waived his right to a preliminary hearing through his court-appointed attorney, Grand County Public Defender Don Torgerson.
The victim, meanwhile, was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, after a local doctor determined that he sustained not only serious – but life-threatening – injuries that required emergency surgery. The man later returned home to recuperate.
Prosecutor Michael Langford, who appeared in place of Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald at Williford’s Feb. 14 court appearance, asked the court to set the defendant’s bond amount at $26,000 cash-only.
“This is extremely aggravated,” he told 7th District Judge Lyle R. Anderson. “I think (the victim) is at substantial risk.”
The judge ultimately agreed to set Williford’s cash-only bond amount at $25,000, after Torgerson countered that his client does not appear to have a prior criminal history.
“He’s still in high school,” Torgerson said. “He’s 19.”
The victim and his family told an officer that they do not want the suspect to return to the home that they own, and if Williford manages to post his cash-only bond, Langford asked the judge to sign a no-contact order.
“Out of an abundance of caution, he should have no contact (with the victim),” he said.
Williford is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Under the law, he is presumed to be innocent unless or until a court formally convicts him of any charges.
Altogether, the charges against him carry potential penalties of one to 30 years in state prison, followed by up to four-and-a-half years in jail.
Authorities allege that Williford was under the influence of LSD when they say he repeatedly struck the 82-year-old man in the early evening hours of Feb. 8.
According to a police report on the incident, Williford’s mother asked the victim to pay a visit to the home that she rents from him, giving the elderly man permission to enter the property in the 300 block of Walker Street. She told her landlord that Williford had been acting bizarrely, and said that she was concerned about another person who was staying at the home.
The man later told police that he remembers entering the home and seeing someone other than Williford on a couch in a downstairs room. But his memories of the visit end there – at the moment when authorities allege that Williford began to strike the man.
A witness told police that Williford attacked the man at the bottom of the stairs, inflicting a large laceration on the top of the man’s head and another laceration above one of his ears. The man also sustained minor abrasions on both sides of his face, and Williford allegedly struck the witness once with a closed fist after saying, “one, two, three,” according to the police report.
When the reporting officer arrived at the scene, he peered through a window and saw Williford pacing back and forth.
As the officer began to walk downstairs toward the kitchen, he reportedly saw a large puddle of blood at the bottom of the stairs. Blood was subsequently found in numerous areas on the property, including a sink and countertop, a railing near the front door and on the front porch. Police also discovered a bundle of bloody paper towels on the lawn near the driveway.
The officer continued on to the room where he’d seen Williford pacing, and discovered that the suspect was not wearing any clothes. As he entered the room, the officer said “hello” to Williford, who did not appear to understand the greeting. Instead, Williford grabbed his head with a fast jerking movement as the officer approached him, and then fell onto the floor, according to the police report.
He jumped back up and began to walk away as the reporting officer and others came closer, and allegedly refused to comply with their commands to stop struggling once he was in custody.
Williford subsequently began to count to the numeral 14 multiple times, and when the reporting officer asked Williford if he had taken any drugs, Williford reportedly nodded his head up and down. He then nodded his head again in the affirmative on separate occasions when asked if he had taken LSD, and if he’d hit the victim, according to the officer’s report.
After he was placed under arrest, Williford was transported to Moab Regional Hospital, where he allegedly told a deputy that he saw the victim enter the house, grew angry and hit him. He later told his mother that he had taken “acid,” or LSD, according to the report.
Victim recovering from “life-threatening” injuries