Suspect in slaying at University Hospital denied bond

Bond was denied Friday for Charles Gorrell, the 85-year-old man accused of fatally shooting his nephew Oct. 16 on the seventh floor of University Hospital.

Superior Court Judge William M. Fleming Jr.’s decision followed an emotional hearing that aired new details about the family dispute leading up to the death of Tim Grooms, 59.

Assistant District Attorney Keith Johnson said Grooms held power of attorney for his aunt, who was admitted to University Hospital the day before for treatment of pneumonia. Johnson said Gorrell objected to some of the decisions made by Grooms about his wife’s care, and there were several disputes leading up to the shooting.

“Mr. Gorrell took exception to his status as power of attorney, which led to their conflicts,” Johnson said.

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 the hospital and fired four to six shots at Grooms, Johnson said.

Johnson opposed bond based on Gorrell’s behavior, which he said was “becoming increasingly erratic.”

“We’re worried about his access to other family members,” Johnson said.

Terry Grooms echoed those concerns, saying his brother was asked by his aunt after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to take care of her and serve as executor of her estate. That was before she married Gorrell about 10 years ago, Grooms said.

“At some time in his demented mind, (Gorrell) decided if he could not call the shots for my aunt, then no one would,” Grooms said.

Speaking for the Gorrell family, attorney William Sussman provided a different picture of what he called “a tragic situation involving two families.”

Sussman said that Gorrell was trying to spend the night with his wife, but instead was told “aggressively” to “leave the hospital and not come back.”

He said that his client, who made no statement during the hearing but often dabbed at his eyes, has health problems, including congestive heart failure and diabetes. The suggestion that he could go after the Grooms family is unfounded, Sussman said.

“His ability to do anything is severely restricted,” Sussman said.

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