A Knox County man, who was convicted of the 2008 murder of a man he testified was his best friend, is one of several people who received pardons for their crimes as former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin left office Monday.
Daniel Scott Grubb was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Jeremy Johnson of Woodbine following a two-day trial in Knox Circuit Court in 2010.
In the pardon, filed in the Executive Journal of the Kentucky Secretary of State Wednesday, Bevin noted that drugs, alcohol and a tragic accident resulted in the death of one friend at the hands of another.
“Daniel Grubb made a series of bad decisions that forever altered the lives of many people in a negative way,” Bevin stated in the pardon.
“No greater degree of justice or rehabilitation will be gained by extending Daniel Grubb’s time in prison. There will, however be negative impacts of others, not the least of whom is Daniel’s son Chase,” Bevin added
Grubb had been charged with the murder in May 2009, just days after Johnson’s remains were discovered buried in a remote area of Knox County.
Johnson had been missing since June 10, 2008.
He had reportedly last been seen in the parking lot of Angels and Wings Sports Bar off of U.S. 25E in Corbin that night.
Knox County Sheriff’s deputies located Johnson’s car in an area on Ky. 459 in Barbourville a month later.
Kentucky State Police had been using shovels to search the area off of Gray–Helton Hollow Road in Gray when they discovered the remains.
Officials with the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Officer were able to use medical records to positively identify the remains as Johnson.
Through the course of the investigation, state police secured an arrest warrant for Grubb, charging him with murder and tampering with physical evidence. At the time, he was being held in the Clay County Detention Center on unrelated charges.
At the trial held in Octobert 2010, Angela Morrison, the fiancé of Johnson’s brother, Eric, and one of the last to see him alive, said after leaving the bar on the night of the murder, she, along with Johnson and Grubb, drove around in Johnson’s station wagon for approximately 20 minutes before returning to the bar where she got out and went back into the bar.
“Daniel got in front to drive,” Morrison said of Grubb adding that was the last time she saw Johnson alive.
Barbara Shelton, who was dating Grubb’s father, Jerry, at the time of Johnson’s death, testified that she was at Jerry’s residence on Ky. 6, just across from where Daniel had a trailer.
“There was fighting and beating going on,” Shelton testified adding that the fighting continued until approximately 3 a.m.
Jonathan Blevins, a longtime friend of both Grubb and Johnson, testified that he went to Walmart with Grubb where Grubb purchased gloves and garbage bags.
The duo then drove to what Blevins described as an old strip mine site on Ky. 459 where he saw Johnson’s station wagon parked.
Blevins said Grubb then walked with him to the car and opened the back door at which time he saw Johnson’s lifeless body.
“I told him that I couldn’t have anything to do with this. He said ‘you can and you will,’” Blevins testified. “I took it as threatening.”
According to Blevins the duo loaded Johnson’s body into Grubbs’ pickup truck and drove down Ky. 6 and turned onto a side road, stopping at a remote gas well site where they buried Johnson.
Grubb took the stand in his own defense, testifying that Johnson’s death was a case of self defense.
Grubb testified that after he and Johnson left Angels and Wings, they drove back to his trailer in Johnson’s car, but upon arriving, Johnson was asleep in the back seat.
Grubb left Johnson in the car, taking his pickup truck and going to a friend’s house for a short visit before returning home.
“When I pulled into the driveway, my trailer lights were on,” he said, adding that Johnson did not have permission to enter his home.
Inside, Grubb said he found that Johnson had broken into a lock box and taken drugs, money and a pistol.
Grubb testified that a fight ensued after which Johnson went outside before hurling a concrete block at him.
“It hit my shin. I picked it up and threw it back at him,” Grubb said.
Believing that was the end of the matter, Grubb said he went back inside and went to bed. However, when he awoke, he discovered Johnson’s lifeless body outside.
“He was my best friend. I didn’t mean to kill him. I never meant to kill anybody,” Grubb testified.
The jury deliberated less than an hour before returning the guilty verdict on the murder and tampering with physical evidence charges.