Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 23, 2013

Dismissal sought in stabbing case

Motion argues Greear was defending himself on his property

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — The attorney for an Ashland man charged in a road rage-related stabbing recently filed a motion requesting the case against his client be dismissed, arguing that he “was legally privileged to stand his ground and protect himself when he was attacked in front of his home.”

David Mussetter, who represents Dewey Greear, also maintains the first-degree assault charge should be dropped because the commonwealth “cannot objectively establish that (Greear’s) use of force to defend himself ... was unlawful.”

But in his response to Mussetter’s pleading, special prosecutor Brandon Ison contends the evidence shows that Greear “went too far to protect himself from prosecution” and that the question of whether Greear used “the appropriate amount of self-defense” when he stabbed Patrick Steele in the abdomen on Sept. 16, 2012, is one that should be answered by a jury.

Ison, who is commonwealth’s attorney for the 37th Judicial Circuit — Carter, Morgan and Elliott counties — also argues the actions of the defendant before and after the incident and the statements of Steele and his girlfriend cast doubt on Greear’s self-defense claim.

Greear, 58, is charged with stabbing Steele, 53, in the front yard of Greear’s residence in the 5200 block of Central Parkway. According to the Ashland Police Department, both Greear and Steele had been riding motorcycles and Steele was apparently upset by something Greear did, rode to his house, got off his bike and confronted him. The two men got into a fight, which culminated in Greear stabbing Steele in the abdomen with a pocket knife.

Greear and Steele were hospitalized following the incident. Steele was taken initially to King’s Daughters Medical Center, then transfered to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. Greear was admitted to KDMC for observation after complaining of a medical emergency.

Greear was charged with first-degree assault for allegedly intentionally inflicting injury to Steele with a “dangerous instrument.” The charge is a Class B felony that carries a 10- to 20-year prison sentence. The APD also filed a cross-complaint against Steele with Boyd County Attorney Phillip Hedrick, requesting Steele be prosecuted for fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, but that has not occurred.

In his motion to dismiss, Mussetter states his client was in the front yard of his home tinkering with his motorcycle when Steele, a retired Ashland Fire Department captain, pulled up on his bike, dismounted, had words with Greear, then “viciously assaulted” him.

“Mr. Steele had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was under the influence of alcohol and/or other intoxicants,” Mussetter wrote. “Steele struck the defendant in the head with a blunt object and his fists, and shoved him down in his yard. Steele trespassed onto the defendant’s property and continued to violently assault him by kicking him repeatedly, with heavy boots, about his chest, torso, arms and trunk. Dewey lay on the ground in a defensive fetal position, trying to shield his chest from further blows.”

Greear — who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, according to Mussetter — was trying to protect his chest because he underwent a heart transplant in 2008 and his sternum is held together with stainless-steel wires, the motion states.

At the time of the incident, Greear was wearing leather motorcycle jacket with protective Kevlar chest plates, Mussetter wrote. However, photos taken at KDMC show he still suffered deep bruising to his right chest wall in two different spots.

Mussetter wrote his client was “scared, fragile and defenseless” and did the only thing he could to repel his attacker: He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small Swiss Army knife, and, as Steele lunged toward him again, he stabbed him once in the stomach. Steele retreated and Greear went into his house, retrieved a phone and called 911, the motion states.

In his response, Ison argues that statements from Steele and his girlfriend, Stephanie Hensley, paint a much different picture of the incident.

According to Ison, the fight was precipitated by Steele and Hensley being “buzzed” twice by Greear, which nearly caused them to wreck. After Steele followed Greear home to confront him, Hensley states Greear started walking toward Steele “at a fast pace and making threats” to him.

Hensley also told authorities that after stabbing Steele, Greear bragged to a 911 dispatcher about doing so, telling the dispatcher: “I cut the s... out of him.”

Ison also states that Greear “exaggerated his injuries” to the APD officers who responded to the incident and continued to do so at KDMC in an attempt to bolster his self-defense claim. Also, according to Ison, Greear told one officer to check his hands for blood “because if he stabbed someone, he should have blood on his hands.

“This statement contradicts his prior statements of self-defense,” Ison wrote.

Greear also “blurted out” at one point that Steele “had a knife and was trying to slay him,” a story different than the one he originally told police and one not supported by evidence, Ison wrote.

In addition to having a special prosecutor, the case against Greear has been transferred to a special judge, Rebecca Phillips, also of the 37th Judicial Circuit.

Steele also has filed a civil lawsuit against Greear in Boyd Circuit Court, seeking unspecified damages for medical expenses, lost wages and impairment of earning capacity. Greear has filed a countersuit against Steele.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.