Jury reduces attempted murder to aggravated assault in groin shooting trial

Jeff Bobo • Jul 31, 2013 at 4:36 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man who lost a testicle as a result of a 2011 shooting in front of his Bulls Gap residence testified before a jury Monday that “it really sucks to lose a nut.”

Bobby Wolfe was shot in the groin by James Walter Grooms on April 13, 2011 during an argument which prosecutors claimed was fueled by alcohol and jealousy.

Police said Grooms, who was intoxicated at the time, initially struck Wolfe’s girlfriend in the head several time with the butt of a nine millimeter handgun. When Wolfe came to her defense, Grooms shot Wolfe in the groin.

As a result of the shooting, Wolfe lost one of his testicles.

Grooms, 45, 142 Herbert Lane, Bulls Gap, went on trial Monday in Hawkins County Criminal Court charged with attempted first-degree murder for shooting Wolfe in the groin; aggravated assault for beating Wolfe’s girlfriend Manikia Childress in the head with a pistol; and a third charge of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Monday the jury returned a verdict of guilty on two counts of aggravated assault, and Grooms was found not guilty on the firearm charge.

Judge Thomas Wright Scheduled Grooms’ sentencing for Sept. 16. Grooms faces 3-6 years in prison on each aggravated assault conviction.

The attempted first-degree murder charge could have resulted in a 25 year sentence.

On Monday the jury did impose fines, however.

For the aggravated assault, which was reduced from attempted murder, the jury fined Grooms $10,000. On the second aggravated assault against Childers, he was fined $500.

Assistant Attorney General Kevin Keeton called 12 witnesses to the stand Monday, many of whom were there to testify about the chain of custody of evidence.

The two key witnesses, however, were the victims: Wolfe and Childers.

Both testified that prior to the shooting Grooms had made unwanted advances toward Childers and had made statements that Wolfe “didn’t deserve her.”

The victims testified that on the evening of the shooting Grooms was drunk and walking in front of Wolfe’s residence yelling threats. Childers went out to confront Grooms, who then hit her over the head with his pistol.

When Wolfe came to her defense, Grooms shot Wolfe in the groin.

The victims testified that during the altercation Grooms made statements threatening to kill Wolfe and leave him lying in the street.

Defense attorney Herb Holcomb called two witnesses to the stand including Grooms and his mother, Helen Grooms.

Helen Grooms testified that the day after the shooting she went to the scene of the crime and found a red box cutter, which the defense said was in Wolfe’s hand when he was shot.

During cross examination, Keeton questioned Mrs. Grooms about why she waited more than two years, until a few days before the trial started, to reveal the box cutter, suggesting that the evidence was fabricated.

Grooms denied striking Childers with his gun. He said she fell down and hit her head on the ground.

Grooms claimed that he shot Wolfe in self-defense when Wolfe attacked him on the street.

Grooms testified that Wolfe attacked him because Grooms had called Wolfe a thief.

One moment of levity during the trial occurred when Keeton asked Wolfe what life has been like for him since being shot.

Everyone in the courtroom including judge and jury burst into laughter when Wolfe replied, "It really sucks to lose a nut.”

Grooms remains free on $10,000 bond until his sentencing.

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