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The trial of a Brunswick County man accused of beating an 86-year old Longwood woman to death in November 2012 is scheduled to begin Monday, March 31.
Richard Hugh Grissett, 52, is charged with murder in death of Linnie Mae Ward of Longwood.
Deputies were dispatched to her 1975 Gwynn Road NW residence about noon Nov. 13, 2012, when her death was reported. Detectives believe Ward was killed the night before after an obvious struggle, Sheriff John Ingram said in an interview soon after Grissett’s arrest.
An autopsy determined Ward died of strangulation and blunt-force trauma to her face. Detectives said the only known weapon was the attacker’s hands.
Grissett was arrested the night of Nov. 19, 2012, after being questioned at the sheriff’s office in Bolivia.
“The evidence at the scene combined with people in the community’s information is what led us to Grissett,” Ingram said.
Deputies searched Grissett’s 7167 Farm Loop Path residence near Sunset Beach on Nov. 20 and found a .22-caliber Ruger rifle belonging to Ward.
“It appears he was looking for anything of value to sell and get money for or money,” Ingram said at the time. “The only thing we know that was removed from the residence was the rifle.”
Ingram said it appeared Grissett walked into Ward’s home, as there were no apparent signs of forced entry.
“The evidence supports that robbery was the motive,” the sheriff said. “It was Ms. Ward’s desire not to be anyone’s victim that resulted in the struggle that ultimately led to her death.”
Grissett, who was on probation when Ward was killed, was indicted Nov. 26, 2012, on the first-degree murder charge, as well as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, first-degree burglary and common-law robbery.
His criminal record dates back to 1992 and includes multiple charges for felony and misdemeanor larceny, breaking and entering, assault on a female, violation of a protective order and worthless checks as well as DWI, uttering forged papers, receiving stolen goods, larceny of a motor vehicle, reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license revoked, resisting an officer, giving fictitious information to a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Grissett was released from the North Carolina Department of Correction on Nov. 16, 2005, after he served more than two years for possession of a firearm by a felon.
On Sept. 17, 2009, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault on a female and sentenced to probation. Grissett was also convicted of assault on a female in 2001 and 1999.
On July 29, 2010, he was convicted of felony larceny after attempted breaking and entering and attempted felony breaking and entering. He was sentenced to three years probation.
He has been in custody at the Brunswick County Detention Facility without bail since his Nov. 19, 2012, arrest.
District Attorney Jon David and Senior Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger will prosecute Grissett, who is being represented by Shallotte lawyer Mike Ramos.
Superior Court Judge Kenneth Crow, who serves the Second Division of the Superior Court, 3B Judicial District, for Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties, will preside over the trial.
Jury selection begins Monday, March 31. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks, Bollinger said.
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.