BELTON — Army Master Sgt. Christopher “C.J.” Grisham was fined $2,000, the maximum fine allowed under the statute. However, he won’t have to serve time in jail.
On Tuesday, a jury of three men and three women found Grisham guilty of interfering with the duties of a Temple police officer, a Class B misdemeanor, which could have been punished with both a fine and up to 180 days in jail.
While waiting for the jury to return with the sentence, Grisham said he plans to appeal his conviction and he contacted the National Rifle Association about securing funds for his legal defense. He did not say if he heard from the organization.
The charge arose from Grisham’s March 16 arrest by Temple police officer Steve Ermis while Grisham and his son, Chris, were reportedly on a 10-mile hike for a Boy Scout merit badge.
The elder Grisham carried an AR-15 rifle and a concealed handgun, for which he had a permit. Grisham said he was carrying the weapons for personal protection against feral hogs, coyotes and a puma that had been seen in the area.
Details of Grisham’s activities surrounding the case came to light Wednesday.
Prosecuting attorney John Gauntt Jr. called his office’s investigator, Joe Medrano, to the stand. Medrano testified that every day since Grisham’s arrest, it’s been his job to keep tabs on Grisham’s activities as well as the activities of members of Open Carry Texas.
Medrano testified that, as part of his investigation, he learned Grisham attended a Temple City Council meeting “two or three days before his arrest to urge the council to adopt some sort of Second Amendment ordinance.”
He also said that, in his opinion, Grisham used the cellphone video of his arrest, which was recorded by his son and put on the Internet where it went viral, to “get his side of the story on the road,” to attract followers and raise money. “Grisham used it to ask for donations,” Medrano said. “And he raised close to $52,000.”
Gauntt asked Medrano about Grisham’s media interviews, noting he had appeared on nationally syndicated talk radio shows and he had given multiple interviews to local and national media outlets.
“Does the defendant seem to be using his notoriety from the incident to push his political views?” Gauntt asked. “Every day,” Medrano replied.
The defense’s case relied heavily on character witnesses. Grisham’s wife, Emily, eldest daughter, Annissa, a member of his church, Timothy New, and a pen pal he corresponded with while he was stationed in Iraq, Janelle Duncan, were called to testify.
Saying that “the last eight months have been punishment enough,” Emily Grisham pleaded with the jury not to send her husband to jail. Annissa, a senior in high school, said that it was her last year living at home and if her father were incarcerated, she “would feel like she was robbed of daily time with him.”