A follow-up to this post. There is a certain amount of gray area in a case where there are two possible causes of death. If they’re intertwined, murder can still be charged. However, if the assault was incidental or was not deemed to be a felony then the prosecutors will have a much harder time doing so.

Right now, between Katie Allison Granju and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, things are not adding up. The KCSO has all but declared that they are not going to be moving forward. Ms. Granju does not believe that this is close to being finished. Beyond disagreements over what can or cannot be charged, there are a number of inconsistencies that are not a matter of opinion.

Katie Allison Granju: Henry was beaten with a tire iron.
Knox County Sheriff’s Department: The evidence not only doesn’t support the claim that a weapon was used, but disputes it.
More Info: If no weapon was used, it’s harder to prove felony assault. Without felony assault, murder is harder to prove. Actually, according to KCSO, without a victim statement or a police officer witnessing the assault, it is impossible to prove a felony.

KCSO: The injuries from the assault may not have been substantial. The friend who picked Henry up from the incident reported only an injury near the eye. No trauma was reported at the time of the autopsy.
KAG: “Were there such injuries? Well, his medical records CLEARLY and CONSISTENTLY refer to the assault and its compounding physical impact on the other causative factor – the drug overdose.” The medical records include “Trauma. Right skull base fracture.” These records were shown to the WASO TV station. She has also stated that her doctors are willing to talk to the authorities about the assault’s contribution on Henry’s fate.
Info: According to some medical personnel in the comment section of the KNS article, even a healed fracture should show up on an autopsy. Others are saying that the Medical Examiner should have access to said medical records.

KAG: There is no mystery as to the responsible party and she has provided the names of numerous witnesses and individuals with an account of what happened.
KCSO: There was no witness to the beating itself. The witnesses she provided are all hearsay.
Info: These two claims are not mutually exclusive. Sadly.

KCSO: The Sheriff’s Office was denied access to interview Henry.
KAG: Henry was never able to give a statement of more than 2-3 words. Even so, she offered the KCSO the opportunity to try to interview him anyway (including an offer for a speech therapist to be present). They stopped by once when Henry was having an MRI done and never tried again.
Info: This falls under the category of If Ms. Granju is not outright lying, the Sheriff’s Office is being pretty dishonest.

KCSO: Alleged assault.
KAG: Not alleged! Assault!
Info: I guess it’s theoretically possible that Henry fell, hit his head, broke his jaw, etc. Or Granju is being very misleading about the extent of her son’s injuries.

KCSO: They’re being classy by not answering the question of whether Henry Granju was dealing, instead noting that the burial services are going to be commencing later in the day.
KAG: Perhaps it would have been better not to release any of this at midnight the night before slash morning of Henry’s burial. And perhaps she should have been informed first instead of having to read about all of this in the paper.

Other Thoughts: Complication matters somewhat is the fact that Henry had really started to heal from the physical injuries sustained during the attack. It makes it easier for a defense attorney down the line to argue that it was all about the drugs. This doesn’t actually demonstrate that it was the overdose all along because the nature of Henry’s injuries can have long tentacles, but it makes a prosecutor’s job harder.

The KCSO’s actions here seem to go beyond mere skepticism and “we’ll wait and see”. It seems to me they’re making it much harder for any arrest and trial to eventually occur. They’re doing a future defense team’s job for them. It seems possible that they have simply determined that it doesn’t matter what role the assault played in things they are just not going to be able to prove what they would need to prove to make their case and so they are overstating their case and making it sound like it was just an OD. It reflects better on their crime stats that way. Another disturbing possibility is that they simply dropped the ball early on and at this point they would prefer see the matter just get dropped rather than acknowledge that their failure to take it seriously early on made it more difficult to pursue more serious charges later on. And of course, I have to say another possibility is that Ms. Granju is herself in the wrong, having come to a conclusion early on and very reluctant to admit that it may have been more about the drugs and less about the assault. That’s not the direction I am leaning right now, but I’m not an unbiased observer.


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18 Responses to Avenging Henry II

  1. Barry says:

    Important to remember is that the assault/OD occured more than a month before Henry’s death, as he was in the hospital and a rehab center in-between those times, which would seem to make it more difficult to use an autopsy to determine full cause of death. This makes the initial medical examinations, treatments and records vital to determining what hastened his downhill turn and eventual passing.

    I’m having trouble cementing down the cause/effect sequence of events… Right now it’s disputed and otherwise unproven which happened first – the overdose, or the assault (I’m fully confident with Katie’s assertion that it was caused by angry or otherwise violent humans and not a fall down the stairs). If he was beaten first, then took the drugs that worked on his already weakened system, I’m not sure I would hold the attackers responsible for murder – since he took the drugs of his own free (addicted) will. But if he was already high, then beaten, I think the attackers are responsible for whatever happens to him as a result of the assault.

    If that’s the case, and even if there was no intent to actually kill him, the result is 2nd degree murder to me, plus whatever assault and/or battery charges apply in this kind of case.

  2. Peter says:

    One issue is that there’s no obvious reason why the KCSO would want to downplay whatever attack occurred. It’s not as if Henry were a ghetto gangbanger or from a trailer camp. Yes, he was a drug addict, but he had a responsible, relatively well-known mother and a father who has a fairly important job in the city or county government. You’d expect the cops to be very diligent in pursuing the case given these factors.

    If I had to guess, I’d say that the connection between the assault and Henry’s death is a very tenuous one, if indeed one exists at all.

  3. trumwill says:

    Barry, by most accounts it appears that the assault happened first and the OD afterward. Even if the OD happened afterward, a case may still be made if the drugs were a response to the beating and if the beating was partially responsible for the death. It gets harder, though.

    And if the KCSO was simply saying that they cannot connect the death to the assault and said “Yes, there was an assault but it appears that the death was called by an overdose,” I would understand that. It’s the minimization of the assault that I find really bizarre. Even if it doesn’t show up on the autopsy, either Katie and WATE are lying or the KCSO is being intentionally obtuse by not looking at or considering the medical records.

  4. trumwill says:

    Peter, I can think of multiple reasons:

    (1) If they can attribute it to the drugs, it makes their crime stats look better.

    (2) Henry wasn’t black and poor, but he was a druggie. That makes a difference. I think he also was not entirely white, either. Not sure where the name Granju comes from, but he, his sister, and his father are all not fair-skinned.

    (3) They may have messed up the investigation early on and want to draw attention elsewhere.

    (4) Combine #1 and #3 and consider that if there is no murder, they can’t be blamed for failing to bring the murderers to justice. It’s possible that they didn’t think that they could make a case and decided that since they couldn’t, they’d just deny a murder ever took place.

    That’s the only thing that makes sense other than that KAG is simply lying.

  5. Barry says:

    I’m not an unbiased person in this, in that Katie is a friend of mine, but I have a big problem simply believing she’s lying and find it much easier the sheriff’s department is trying to sweep it under the rug. It’s difficult to live in this community, having two kids of my own, knowing the possibility exists that if one of them is assaulted and possibly killed that the sheriff’s office couldn’t be counted on to do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice, whoever you are.

    It’s so very strange that the police reports and the CME’s autopsies are so wildly – almost blatantly – inconsistent with what I trust to be mostly the facts in the case.

  6. Bob V says:

    It seems to me that this is relevant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggshell_skull
    It’s a tort law thing, but it applies to criminal law as well. The victim having an eggshell skull/drug addiction isn’t a defense.

  7. stone says:

    Let’s say the non-drug injuries did cause his death. How do we know Henry didn’t start it? How do we know it wasn’t self-defense?

    That’s undoubtedly what the suspects said, if they admit to anything happening at all. Who is available to contradict them? No one we know of.

    The only witness we’ve heard from so far is a guy who picked Henry up at the store after the alleged assault — and he says Henry’s appearance and statements do not support his mom’s account.

    We just don’t know where she is getting her information. Right now I don’t see enough to prosecute either.

  8. trumwill says:

    Sheila,

    It’s kinda like I said to Barry. I can understand why they wouldn’t be able to prosecute (you bring up a couple good other reasons). It’s the verifiably contradictory information coming from the KCSO and KAG that I just don’t understand. The KCSO is all but saying the injuries from the assault are minor and that trauma was negligible. KAG has (or claims to have) medical records which strongly suggest otherwise.

    That’s the part I don’t understand. Even if the KCSO is being dishonest for the reasons I outlined above, the extent of the injuries is verifiable and their PR opponent is obviously not going to let this drop. In a vacuum, that would suggest that KAG is being dishonest about the injuries, but she’s shown the records to a TV station.

    It’s all just really weird.

  9. stone says:

    From the article: “Because no weapon was used in the assault on Granju, the attack would be a misdemeanor offense. With Granju’s death, any chance of prosecuting the two assailants has passed.

    “The only way we can charge in this kind of misdemeanor is if it’s witnessed by us or occurs in our presence,” Jones said.”

    Granju stated in her blog entries that she had conducted her own probe into her son’s assault and provided the Sheriff’s Office with the names of those involved.

    “The names we got from her were friends of the victim and had only hearsay knowledge of the assault,” Jones said. None of the people identified by Granju were witnesses, he said.”

    Let’s analyze this, because it’s important to understand the difference between what someone hears or thinks she knows, and evidence that is 1) admissible in court and 2) credible. Most people don’t know the difference. They think if “everyone knows” something, that settles it.

    Let’s assume that before Henry died, he told *someone* he was beaten and by whom. Let’s even assume he said they used a tire iron.

    If the declarant (Henry) is unavailable to testify in court due to death, his statements to others are still admissible in court IF and only if he made the statements under the belief his death was impending ( called a “dying declaration”). (This is the federal rule; there might be slight differences in Henry’s state’s law but hearsay exceptions are pretty standard from state to state).

    Doesn’t look as if that was the case. Henry was apparently on his feet for many hours after the attack. He didn’t seek out medical treatment.

    But let’s say we can show it’s a dying declaration. Maybe he said something once he got to the hospital. Those are only admissible in court IF it’s a murder case. But let’s presume this is a felony murder state (because it seems unlikely the assailants *intended* to murder Henry), where if there’s a killing during commission of a felony, it’s murder whether you meant to or not. Probably use of the tire iron would constitute the required felony, or maybe (less likely)the drug transaction (if there is one).

    So Henry’s statement to Mr. X is admissible. “He said, ‘Those guys attacked me with a tire iron to steal my money when I went to buy drugs from them.'” But is it credible? Will a jury convict based upon it? Are the people Henry supposedly told this to believable? And even if they are, is *Henry* believable?

    This last question is one that police and prosecutors have to ask themselves before they file. And it’s not a question those who loved a victim ever want to consider. That is the conflict. Of course the mother of a dead child wants every possible resource invested in punishing the people she considers responsible, no matter how remote the chance of success. But that’s not how the justice system works.

  10. stone says:

    “The KCSO is all but saying the injuries from the assault are minor and that trauma was negligible. KAG has (or claims to have) medical records which strongly suggest otherwise. ”

    I don’t find this so surprising.

    One set of records was compiled for the purpose of treatment. The second set was compiled for the purpose of determining cause of death.

    For example, often medical records include information that people just told the medical workers. It’s not always verified or verifiable. Medical personnel have to work quickly, often with incomplete or indefinite information.

  11. trumwill says:

    Aren’t things like “right skull base fracture” pretty objective, though? I could understand it including something like a reference to a tire iron that wasn’t a tire iron after all, but I would expect the extent of the injuries to be more concrete. Or at the very least upon finding out that the injuries were not what they originally thought, the doctors would not offer to explain the seriousness of the injuries to the cops.

    I dunno. When I first read her original plea for justice, I had thought that this was going to be a tough battle. I didn’t think that it would actually happen. Then I thought I might be wrong about that based on what KAG said she had (much of which, I agree, is not going to stand up in court). Now we’re full circle and it’s probably not going to happen. But it’s the way that this is unfolding that is puzzling me.

    I understand the difficulties of proving a crime and why they might not make that endeavor. I understand how KAG thought she was giving them more than she was. I can understand a “we were denied access to the victim” vs “no you were not” misunderstanding with both parties operating in good faith.

    I just can’t yet understand the difference in injuries as described by both parties without one party or the other acting in bad faith.

  12. stone says:

    “I just can’t yet understand the difference in injuries as described by both parties without one party or the other acting in bad faith. ”

    I can. I’m no medical expert, but in my experience reasonable minds can differ about almost everything.

    You also brought up the good point that the examination happened many weeks after he suffered the injuries. So we’re talking about interpretations of healing injuries, not current injuries.

    Plus it’s very possible Ms. Granju has some earnest misunderstandings. She is not an expert. And I would expect her to be extremely emotional about this, not to mention physically exhausted even if she were *not* nine months pregnant.

    Laypersons can’t prosecute criminal cases, but they can file lawsuits. If the family has the resources, what they will probably do is file suit against the alleged perps. This will give them the ability to take their depositions, which means they can compel them to answer questions about the events under penalty of perjury. They can also hire their own medical expert to review the evidence. The defendants will probably have no money, but the family can use the civil case to build evidence that may convince the police and prosecutors to take another look.

  13. stone says:

    Here’s a knowledgable-sounding comment posted to the article. Apparently it was justa preliminary report, not the final report, that was released.

    “Pick one: either the Sheriff’s Department is intentionally trying to mislead the public or they are profoundly ignorant with regard to preliminary forensic examinations.

    To explain — like the format of many reports, this report lists the major pathologic finding (anoxic encephalopathy) as Roman numeral I. But it also lists subheadings that are findings related to or consequences of the major pathologic finding. In this case, the secondary findings for the the cause of death include “cerebral edema, severe” and “pulmonary edema, severe.”

    It is true that drug overdose can cause anoxic encephalopathy, but so can closed-head trauma and/or increased intracranial pressure due to trauma. Pulmonary edema is usually related to cardiac problems but it can also be due to non-cardiogenic causes including head trauma.

    Further, because this was a preliminary report, it did not include physical examination findings nor did it incorporate the patient’s clinical record.

    From a professional, law enforcement standpoint, there is no way on God’s green earth that the Sheriff could know what this boy was hit with without these findings and he certainly could not proclaim the cause of death.
    .”

  14. stone says:

    “Not sure where the name Granju comes from”

    I’d guess Hungarian.

  15. trumwill says:

    Earlier commenters suggested that a preliminary report would include a look at the clinical record, but this dude(tte) looks like (s)he knows what (s)he is talking about so I will take his(/her) word on it.

    It makes some things make more sense. It’s not so much that the clinical judgment was ignored as much as it was not looked at (for a preliminary report). It doesn’t explain the Sheriff’s Office coming out swinging like this. It’s prudent to say “be patient” and not to imply that you’ve made up your minds.

    My guess for the reasoning behind that is some combination of the aforementioned (they don’t think they’ll be able to make the case in any event so they’re laying the groundwork for a non-trial now, they’re indifferent to the victim, it helps their crime stats) as well as simple hostility towards KAG for making such a stink.

    But… I have to be careful not to ge tall worked up. “Be patient” is, after all, prudent.

    Question about the civil trial, though. As I understand it in a civil trial you cannot decline to take the stand. But you still can’t be forced to self-incriminate, can you? You can still plead the fifth? The difference being that in a criminal trial that cannot be held against you but in a civil trial it can? Do I have this right?

    Hadn’t considered Hungarian or Eastern European. Here’s a picture of the guy. Could be Eastern European, I suppose. I would have guessed Persianish based on that alone, but Granju doesn’t sound Persian.

  16. stone says:

    Yes, you are right about the 5th as pertains to civil trials.

    Sometimes people still choose to testify, despite this.

  17. trumwill says:

    Yeah, and they probably would here, too, since they would probably be able to claim that they were never there or that it was self-defense without being obviously guilty of perjury.

  18. Maria says:

    14.“Not sure where the name Granju comes from”

    It sounds Gypsy to me. Or “Roma” to be more politically correct. And he looked Roma to me as well.

    They’re originally descended from South Asians.

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