Lawsuit: Signs of violence before shootout

Monday, November 12, 2012
Lawrence Guthrie

Lawrence Guthrie is charged with assaulting his estranged wife Angel, then opening fire on police who had come to arrest him. However, those incidents, which took place in June, weren't the first run-ins for the former U.S. Marine and Gulf War veteran, according to a lawsuit filed in civil court shortly after his arrest.

Jackson residents Rebecca Brown and Jeremy Rollet are seeking damages in excess of $50,000 for what their court filings describe as battery, assault and "willful, wanton and malicious conduct" in an April 8 attack. The suit claims Guthrie came to their place of employment -- the Elks Lodge in Jackson -- and began an altercation, hitting both on their heads, faces and bodies.

Brown and Rollet, the suit says, suffered "serious and permanent" injuries and were left with "seriously impaired" and "diminished" psyches. Guthrie pleaded guilty May 16 to the criminal charges claimed by Brown and Rollet in Jackson's municipal court.

The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Benjamin Lewis, who also is presiding over the criminal matter stemming from the June incidents, and asks $25,000 each for counts of battery and assault. A third count asks for an unspecified sum for the physical acts that required medical treatment and lost wages from missing work.

A copy of the lawsuit's petition offers neither insight as to why the altercation took place nor details about the injuries. Several attempts to reach the plaintiffs were unsuccessful, including a request left at the Elks Lodge. Their attorney, Daniel Grimm, declined to comment without the permission of his clients.

Angel Guthrie declined to comment Sunday about the April incident, saying, "I have nothing to say because I wasn't involved."

Court records show no lawyer for Guthrie in the civil dispute. A Nov. 5 hearing resulted in Lewis issuing an order that Guthrie was in default for not responding to the lawsuit, despite summonses sent to the Cape Girardeau County Jail. Guthrie has been in custody since the June incident. Being in police custody does not prohibit such lawsuits, and defendants can request to be taken to court to defend themselves.

Lewis granted the plaintiffs' motion for interlocutory judgment last week. His ruling is not a final determination, but it does allow civil proceedings to move ahead without Guthrie and for the court to consider questions of law. The next hearing is set for Nov. 19.

The petition of Brown and Rollet was filed June 19, more than two months after the alleged attack took place at the Elks Lodge and five days after the 46-year-old Guthrie made headlines for events that police and prosecutors have said could have turned deadly.

Guthrie remains held on $500,000 cash-only bond. In September, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental defect to the charges of attempted assault on a police officer, first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action. He also allegedly assaulted his wife of 22 years and is believed to have fired several shots at her before she made a 911 call for assistance.

The final shot Guthrie fired that day, say police, was directed at himself. Guthrie now wears a brace on his face as the bones heal. His criminal defense lawyer, Bryan Greaser, appears to be setting up a defense that will claim post-traumatic stress disorder.

A social worker testified at Guthrie's preliminary hearing that a brief assessment showed Guthrie has mental and other medical needs. Greaser also did not return calls seeking comment.

A case review has been set in the criminal matter for Dec. 10.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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