A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge yesterday sentenced 16-year-old Thomas L. Grogg to 40 years in prison for what the chief prosecutor called "one of the most brutal crimes we've seen go through this court in many, many years."
Grogg, who showed no emotion as he was sentenced by Judge William G. Plummer, was tried as an adult and convicted in March of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the shooting death of a Lorton construction worker Oct. 20. Plummer also sentenced Grogg to two years for the firearms offense.
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan maintained during the three-day jury trial that the Fredericksburg, Va., youth shot Hallie Hollis nine times in the head in order to take Hollis' money and car to enable Grogg, his 19-year-old brother Robert and two women to go to Florida.
Before yesterday's sentencing, Horan pointed to an "emotional impact statement" submitted by Priscilla Hollis, the wife of the victim who lived in Williamston, N.C., and commuted to his job in Lorton each week.
"My husband was my life . . . he took care of me," said Horan, quoting from the statement. "I feel like if he wasn't trying to make more money to take care of me he would be alive."
Horan, calling the killing "brutal," "callous" and "senseless," told the court that Grogg took Hollis' life for "70 bucks and a ride to Florida." The prosector recommended the judge impose a lengthy sentence.
But defense attorney William B. Reichhardt urged the judge to suspend in part his sentence and order this "116-pound kid" to pay restitution to Priscilla Hollis.
"Tommy Grogg is a shell," said Reichhardt, who pointed out to the court that no one from Grogg's family was present for the sentencing. "Tommy Grogg doesn't yet have a value system . . . it's not an excuse, but it's a fact." A psychiatrist for the defense, John N. Follansbee, testified yesterday that in "any real sense, Grogg is a damaged human being."
Follansbee said Grogg had suffered extreme emotional deprivation and had two alcoholic parents and an unstructured family. While Plummer noted he gave some weight to Grogg's past, he said there are "an awful lot of young men out there" with similar backgrounds who don't kill people.
Grogg's brother Robert, who has pleaded guilty to similar charges, is to be sentenced next week.