Judge tosses gang charges, convicts in assault

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A judge on Monday threw out gang membership charges against three local men, but convicted them on assault charges and sent abduction charges to a grand jury.

General District Judge Jim Moore ruled that prosecutors were not able to prove that the men – Daniel Ray Justice, William Jeffery Wolfe and Jerry Lynn Gurganus – were participating in a gang.

The charges stemmed from incidents on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7. Justice allegedly punched William Roberts when Roberts was at a local used auto parts store on Jan. 5. For that incident, he was found guilty and sentenced to six months with five months suspended. He also was sentenced to six months with five months suspended for the Jan. 7 assault charge.

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In the Jan. 7 incident, the three men participated in beating Roberts at a motorcycle shop on East Washington Street. For that crime, Wolf was sentenced to six months with five months suspended, and Gurganus received a year with six months suspended. Gurganus’ sentence was harsher, because he was the primary aggressor in that incident.

A grand jury will hear the charges of abduction and conspiracy to commit abduction. The grand jury will decide whether there is enough evidence for the charges to move forward in the circuit court.

The judge also ruled that none of the three men is to have contact with the victim.