Richmond, TX – A
Fort Bend County jury sentenced Gregory Kennith Wise to life in prison the
Wednesday before Thanksgiving after convicting him of Murder two days
earlier. The 33 year-old Missouri city
man was tried for the stabbing death of Brandon Yarbough in 2019.
According to lead prosecutor Traci Bennett, Wise and Yarbough both
lived in the same area of Missouri City and frequented the convenience store where
the crime occurred. On June 7, 2019, the
victim was standing outside the store while the defendant was sitting outside a
nearby business. They were outside for
approximately 15 minutes before Wise attacked Yarbough and stabbed him 12 times
with a knife. The victim died in front
of the store and Wise fled to a nearby group home where he resided. Wise disposed of the knife and once home,
changed his clothes and hid them in the closet.
ensuing police investigation recovered surveillance video from the store that
recorded the stabbing along with images of the defendant inside the store an hour
earlier. The store clerk recognized him
as a regular customer, leading police to believe Wise lived close by. Detectives drove through the neighborhood and
spoke with a man walking by who knew where the defendant lived. Wise was located and ultimately
arrested. The defendant denied that he
knew the victim or that he was at the store at the time of the murder.
the investigation, authorities discovered a video of Wise and Yarbough boxing
in the street a week prior to the murder.
Otherwise, there was no evidence of an ongoing problem between the
two. At trial, the defendant testified
that there had been other problems between him and the victim. He claimed that he needed to defend himself
from the victim to justify the stabbing.
The jury disagreed.
State introduced evidence of the defendant’s prior conviction for felony Deadly
Conduct during the punishment phase. The
charge was a result of Wise shooting up his apartment complex in 2017. They also learned of three assault
convictions where Wise attacked people in the Waller County courtroom where his
deadly conduct case was pending. The
defense presented evidence of the defendant’s ongoing mental illness for which
he had been repeatedly treated; however, the evidence also showed that he was
sane at the time of the offense and understood his actions were wrong.
prosecutor Traci Bennett said, “Based on the evidence, it was clear that Wise
could no longer be trusted to remain in our community. Making prison the only place where the
public’s safety could be guaranteed.”
Attorney Brian Middleton added, “The unexpected loss of life is tragic and I
offer my deepest sympathies to Mr. Yarbough’s family. I hope this verdict offers some measure of
justice, knowing it cannot replace their loved one. But it can keep others safe by removing the
violence that the defendant often brought upon our community.”
was tried in the 240th District Court before Presiding Judge Frank
J. Fraley. Murder is a first-degree
felony punishable by 5-99 years, or life, in prison and a fine up to
$10,000. Assistant District Attorneys Traci
Bennett and Sunni Mitchell prosecuted the case on behalf of the State.