In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court held that
the State of Georgia could constitutionally put Gregg to death.
Gregg never made it to the electric chair. He
escaped from prison in July, 1980, the night before his set date for
execution, but died the following night in a bar fight in North
GREGG v. THE STATE.
Murder. Gwinnett Superior Court. Before Judge Merritt.
GRICE, Chief Justice.
Troy Leon Gregg was tried and convicted in the Superior Court of
Gwinnett County for the murders and armed robberies of Fred
Edward Simmons and Bob Durwood ("Tex") Moore. The case is before
this court on appeal and mandatory review of the death sentences
imposed on each of the four counts charging these crimes.
The evidence which the state presented to prove guilt is that
On Wednesday morning, November 21, 1973, the appellant Gregg
(age 25) and a traveling companion Floyd Ralford ("Sam") Allen
(age 16) were hitchhiking north in Florida. They had only $8
between them when they were given a ride by the above named
About two hundred forty miles north of Miami on the Florida
Turnpike, their automobile broke down. A Florida State Highway
Patrolman accompanied Simmons and Moore to an automobile dealer
where Simmons purchased a 1960 red and white Pontiac.
Thereafter, they again picked up Gregg and Allen and resumed
their journey northward. En route, both Simmons and Moore were
seen in possession of large sums of money.
At the intersection of I-10 and I-75 in north Florida, another
hitchhiker, Dennis Weaver, was picked up. He rode with the group
until he got out at the intersection of I-85 and Highway 23
(North Druid Hills Road) in Atlanta, Georgia, at approximately
11:00 p.m. that evening.
Gregg drove during the time Weaver was in the car while Simmons
and Moore did considerable drinking. No fighting words were
exchanged by any of the men while he was present.
Allen stated to a police detective in the appellant's presence
as follows: that at the intersection of Georgia Highway 20 and
I-85 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, they stopped for a rest stop
and Simmons and Moore got out; that Gregg turned around and told
Allen to get out, "we're going to rob them"; that Gregg lay up
on the car with a gun in his hand to get good aim and as Simmons
and Moore were coming back up the bank he fired three shots;
that one of the men fell and the other staggered; that Gregg
then circled around the back of the car and approached the two
men, both of whom were then lying in a drainage ditch; that
Gregg placed the gun to one's head and pulled the trigger, then
went quickly to the other one and placed the gun at his head and
pulled the trigger again; that he took their money and whatever
contents were in their pockets; and that he then told Allen to
get in the car and they drove away.
The bodies of Simmons and Moore were found in the drainage
ditch. A State Crime Laboratory medical examiner stated that
death was caused by gunshot wounds, that Simmons had been shot
in the right corner of the right eye in the region of the temple
and Moore had been shot once in the right cheek of the face and
once in the rear of his head.
On Friday morning, November 23, 1973, the hitchhiker, Dennis
Weaver, went to an Atlanta restaurant for breakfast. While there
he noticed an article on the front page of an Atlanta newspaper
that led him to call the Gwinnett County Police Department. He
told them he thought Gregg and Allen were going to Asheville,
In response to a bulletin from Gwinnett County authorities, the
Asheville Police apprehended Gregg driving Simmons' 1960 Pontiac
at about 3:00 p.m. November 24, 1973. With him in the car were
Allen and three other persons. A .25-caliber automatic pistol
was found in Gregg's pocket. He also had approximately $107 in
cash. Ballistics tests subsequently established that bullets
from the gun in Gregg's pocket caused the death of Simmons and
Weaver accompanied police officers to Asheville where he
identified the automobile in which he had ridden with Gregg and
the two victims, and headbands worn by Gregg and Allen.
When asked if that was how it happened, he responded, "Yes, it
In rebuttal of defense evidence the state established that when
asked by an Asheville detective why he did it, Gregg replied:
"By God, I wanted them dead." Also, the state presented evidence
that the appellant, while awaiting trial, wrote a letter to
Allen, requesting that he testify as outlined in the letter,
which accorded with the appellant's trial testimony.
The appellant testified that be and Allen were given a ride by
Simmons and Moore; that throughout the trip Simmons and Moore
were drinking beer or whiskey; that when they stopped at the
intersection of Georgia 20 and I-85 "Fred hit me on the left jaw
and knocked me in the drainage ditch and I got back up and asked
him to leave me alone and he hit me the second time and knocked
meback into the drainage ditch and when I come out of the
drainage ditch the second time he came at me. I don't know what
he had in his hand, it could have been a knife or pipe, I don't
know what it was, but when he came at me the second time I shot
The appellant swore that he was very scared; that he left there
because he was scared and drove the car up I-85 until they got
to Howard Johnson's and stayed all night; that he did not mean
to kill either one of the victims and shot them to protect
himself; that he had over a hundred dollars on him by virtue of
a cab driver he bumped into repaying money owed him; and that
the new clothing and equipment in his possession when he was
apprehended were either bought by Allen, found in the motel
room, or already owned by him. He denied writing some of the
words in the letter of instruction written to Allen while both
were in jail.
Troy Leon Gregg