A Baker City man with a lengthy criminal record who was placed on probation in exchange for agreeing to testify at a murder trial is back in prison for using drugs and committing new crimes just days after his latest probation term had begun.
James Grove, 42, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for failing to keep the deal he’d made with the District Attorney’s Office in March.
On March 19, Grove pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and was sentenced to three years on probation. Additional charges of first-degree burglary, felon in possession of a firearm and third-degree criminal mischief were dismissed.
As part of the deal, Grove had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of Shawn Greenwood, who is being held at the Baker County Jail on multiple charges related to the January shooting death of Angela Parrish of Vale, and the assault with a firearm of Nathaniel Brown of Baker City. Any failure to abide by that part of the agreement also would have led to a probation revocation, court documents state.
However, the deal ended on May 6 in Baker County Circuit Court when Malheur County Judge Lung Hung revoked Grove’s probation and sentenced him to prison.
Prior to sentencing, Grove had asked Hung for another chance at probation rather than “burning up another five years of my life and not getting treatment.”
Grove’s attorney Bob Moon of Baker City pointed out that Grove had never received treatment for his drug addiction during his last five prison terms.
“I’m new to this case,” Moon said in response to comments about Grove’s long criminal history and lack of compliance on probation from District Attorney Greg Baxter.
“To me, this guy is a drug addict who’s never gotten treatment,” Moon said. “I feel like when we took his plea on this case, we set him up to fail.
“He should have gone from the courtroom to an inpatient treatment program,” Moon said. “He indicated to me that he thought he could stay clean and sober, so we didn’t pursue inpatient treatment.”
Moon joined Grove in asking Hung to give his client a chance at treatment.
“I ask you to continue his probation,” Moon said. “We can keep him in custody until I can find an inpatient treatment program for him.
“And if he does anything other than complete treatment, it’s time to revoke him,” Moon said.
Baxter said he would support recommending an Alternative Incarceration Program (AIP), which provides intensive treatment for those in custody with the Department of Corrections.
“When he’s high that’s when his concerning behavior starts,” Baxter told the judge. “He needs help, but we can’t have this behavior when he’s on probation.”
Hung agreed with the prosecutor, pointing to Grove’s actions that resulted in the hearing to revoke his probation.
“You used, plus you were terrorizing people in their own homes in the middle of the night,” Hung said.
Baker City Police officers Mark Powell and Shannon Regan testified during the May 6 hearing that Karen Bernardy and Jose Yanez reported that Grove had entered the bedroom of their home the morning of March 24 and began yelling obscenities at them and ordering them to leave “his” home.
He later threw a piece of wood through a window of the house as he left.
Grove entered the house through the basement where Bernardy’s daughter and his former girlfriend, Raeganne Terrell, was staying. Terrell testified that Grove was “throwing a fit.” She told police that he had towered over her and prevented her from leaving the room, but in court she testified that she wasn’t concerned for her safety.
“He was being an idiot and off the hook,” she said.
Lt. Ryan Downing of the Baker County Parole and Probation Department said that when he interviewed Grove at the jail later that day Grove admitted having used methamphetamine the day before.
Downing told Hung that Grove’s history of probationary supervision with the department dated back to 1995 and that Grove had been supervised on 22 separate cases.
Downing said that over the years Grove had followed the same pattern that he had in this instance.
“He gets out of jail, signs an agreement and we don’t see him again until he’s arrested again,” Downing said.
At the time of his most recent sentencing, Grove was under supervision on six cases, Downing said.
Grove had been offered treatment over the years, but had never enrolled in a program, Downing said.
The state sought revocation of Grove’s probation on the three-year probation term because of his failure to follow the action plan developed as part of the plea agreement. The plan required that he abstain from using drugs or alcohol, commit no new crimes and check in every Wednesday with Parole and Probation, which he had not yet been able to do because he was sentenced on a Thursday (March 19) and arrested again on the following Tuesday (March 24).
Based on information presented during the hearing, Judge Hung found that Grove had violated his probation. As the judge announced his decision, Grove stormed out of the room where he had been sitting for a video hearing from the jail.
Hung said Grove would receive credit for time served and could earn good time and other opportunities for early release. Grove also was ordered to complete a 36-month probation term upon release from prison. Because Grove left the room before the sentencing had ended, Moon agreed to inform Grove that he would have 30 days to appeal Hung’s decision.