Grand jury indicts 86-year-old on murder charges

86-year-old charged in killing inside hospital



A Richmond County grand jury has indicted Charles W. Gorrell in the Oct. 16 slaying of his wife’s nephew at University Hospital, according to District Attorney Ashley Wright.

Wright said the grand jury returned indictments Monday against the 86-year-old Gorrell on charges of felony murder, malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The indictment comes a little more than two months since a “gravely ill” Gorrell was released on bond after authorities called a hasty hearing the day before Thanksgiving because of concerns over his health.

Court officials said he is staying in Columbia with his son, Greg Gorrell, and wears an electronic ankle monitor that allows his whereabouts to be tracked. His movements have been confined to trips to and from doctors’ offices and hospitals, said William Sussman, his defense attorney.

“His health problems are myriad,” Sussman said.

In January alone, Gorrell went to doctors’ offices at least five times.

Sussman said his client suffers from congestive heart failure and is on an array of medications, including a blood thinner, and requires oxygen at night. He also has trouble eating, walking or standing, Sussman said.

It was much the same when he was being held at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center after his arrest Oct. 16, when, authorities said, he took a pistol into his wife’s room on the hospital’s seventh floor and shot 59-year-old Tim Grooms.

Gorrell had been sent to local hospitals five times – about once every week, since his arrest. The jail administrator, Maj. Gene Johnson, said the mounting cost of his health care was a concern, but officials also feared Gorrell might die in jail because he could not get round-the-clock care.

“He needs to be in a hospital, not in jail,” Johnson told the court in November.

Authorities said the shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute between Gorrell and Grooms, who held a power of attorney for his aunt – Gor­rell’s wife – Frances Grooms Oglesby Gorrell.

The 83-year-old woman had been admitted to Uni­versity Hospital on Oct. 15 for treatment of pneumonia. Frances Gorrell, who officials said had other serious medical conditions, died Dec. 3 at Doctors Hospital.

However, in October, officials said that Charles Gorrell objected to some decisions Grooms made involving his aunt’s care and that there were several disputes leading up to the shooting.

On Oct. 16, an argument developed over who would spend the night at the hospital. Witnesses said Gorrell used a black bag to take a gun into his wife’s hospital room and fired at least four shots at Grooms, killing him. Gorrell was taken into custody by University Hospital security personnel.

Since Gorrell has been staying with his son, Wright said she had been “getting sporadic updates on his condition and have requested more specific information.” She would not speculate on when Gorrell’s case would go to trial.

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