Norton man gets 7 years in prison, 18 years' probation for shooting girlfriend

Mike Still • Dec 19, 2019 at 8:30 AM

WISE – A Norton man convicted in October of the March 2018 shotgun shooting of his now-ex girlfriend will serve at least seven years in prison.

Wise County Circuit Court Judge Chadwick Dotson sentenced Gregory Ernest Milam, 49, to two ten-year terms on charges of attempted second-degree murder and malicious wounding, a three-year term for use of a firearm in commission of a felony and two years for discharge of a firearm in an occupied dwelling.

Dotson suspended 8 years each for the wounding and attempted murder charge and the two-year firearm discharge charge and ordered the terms served consecutively. He also ordered the 18 years served as seven years supervised and 11 years unsupervised probation.

Milam also got credit for the two months already served since his Alford plea in October, admitting the weight of evidence against him in the March 4, 2018, shooting of Leslie Stacy.

Dotson heard testimony from Norton Police Sgt. Rusty McReynolds, who responded to two successive 911 calls the morning of the shooting. The first call had no one speaking on the line, McReynolds said, but the second call a few minutes later came from Norton Community Hospital.

McReynolds said he and another officer arrived at the NCH emergency room to find Stacy being treated by several ER staff and Stacy screaming that she did not want to die. He said he could see internal organs through a wound in Stacy’s left chest and that her left hand was almost severed.

“It was the worst wound I’d seen in 13 years,” McReynolds said, adding that Stacy told him that Milam had shot her. McReynolds said he and another Norton office found Milam in a restroom near the ER waiting room, and they arrested him.

Virginia State Police Special Agent Jeff Kite testified about his search of Milam’s 9th Street NW, Norton, residence, where he found a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and a spent 12-gauge shotgun round in a bedroom along with bloody paper towels and a bloody pillow and clothing.

Kite and Norton Police investigator Matthew Hubbard each said that a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol was found in Milam’s residence in the house’s first-floor hallway.

Kite said he had been asked later to examine a wall at the top of a stairwell near the bedroom for a bullet hole, related to Milam’s claim that Stacy shot at him before he shot her. He said he found a hole that did not appear to be caused by a bullet, and that he found no bullet fragments behind that wall.

Holston Valley Medical Center thoracic surgeon Richard Carter testified of the surgical repair he had to do to repair a 6-8 centimeter wound in Stacy’s left chest, including removal of part of her left lung and closure of the wound. Carter said the wound was consistent with a close-range shotgun blast.

Orthopedic surgeon Ashraf Youssef said Stacy’s left arm had about half of the forearm bone destroyed, leaving her hand attached by some skin and soft tissue. Youssef said he had to install steel rods and pins and reconstruct wrist bones.

Stacy said she and Milam had dated for about four months before the shooting, and that she had gone to Milam’s residence three days before the shooting. She said Milam refused to let her leave the bedroom for much of that time before he shot her.

Stacy said that she and Milam used methamphetamine a number of times during those three days, and that Milam beat her and hit her head against the floor several times. She said Milam also threatened her with a hammer during her stay.

Stacy said Milam shot her around 4:30 a.m. on March 4 as she tried to leave the bedroom, and he took a cell phone photo of her after the shooting. While Milam made her hold the .22 pistol at times during those three days, Stacy said, she did not shoot at Milam.

“His first words after he shot me were, ‘Look what you made me do,’” Stacy said, adding that Milam threatened to shoot her in the head if she did not stop screaming.

Stacy said Milam finally agreed to take her to a hospital after she said she would say somebody else shot her.

In closing arguments, Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp III asked Dotson to sentence Milam in excess of state sentencing guidelines.

“The evidence is clear Mr. Milam was using drugs,” Slemp said. “That was no excuse to shoot her. She was using drugs. That was no excuse to shoot her.”

Defense attorney Terry Kilgore said the presentencing psychological report showed that Dotson should consider the sentencing guidelines.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this case,” Kilgore said. “It’s a bad case, but this case was caused by one thing, methamphetamine.”

Kilgore said the presentencing report indicated that Milam was showing paranoia, hallucinations and symptoms consistent with mental illness because of his drug use.

“It doesn’t excuse what happened, but it explains why,” Kilgore said.

Before sentencing, Milam apologized to Stacy for “my reaction in a stressful situation.”

“I’m not an evil person,” Milam said. “If I could take back my reaction on that day, I would.”

Before passing sentence, Dotson said he had to balance sentencing guidelines and punishment.

“I’m not here to punish you for being a meth addict,” Dotson said. “I believe your actions were because of your state of mind, but you put yourself in a position where you committed a horrific crime.”

Dotson said Milam would have to attend group or community recovery meetings weekly for his probation term and to have no contact with Stacy, her family or household members. Milam was also required to remain drug-free and to be employed or perform community service at least 20 hours a week during probation.

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