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Opening Arguments Held In Trial of Pharmacist Accused In Shooting

October 28, 1986

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A pharmacist accused of killing the man he believed abused his grandson was ″prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner,″ the district attorney general said Tuesday as the murder trial opened.

District Attorney General Tom Shriver asked the Criminal Court jury to focus not on the death of Ryan Reed, but on the second-degree murder charges against Charles Jones.

″You will probably hear evidence that a 2 1/2 -year-old child was horribly injured and later died,″ Shriver said.

″That’s going to be present in this, but I want to remind you to focus your attention on what this case is all about, and that’s the second-degree murder charge against Mr. Jones,″ Shriver said.

Jones, 49, of Nashville, is charged with shooting Bobby Gann Jr., 23, who was sleeping Jan. 9 in the waiting room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit. Gann was the fiance of Ryan’s mother, Angela.

Ryan, who had lain in a coma for two days, died the next day of a head injury, which authorities later said was caused by child abuse.

Hendersonville Police Chief David L. Key has said Gann, a tow truck operator, would have been charged with child abuse in the boy’s death. But Shriver cautioned, ″Mr. Jones is on trial here, not Bobby Gann.″

Shriver said Jones acted as ″prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner″ to avenge the death of his grandchild.

Defense attorney Joe Binkley Sr. asked the jurors to place themselves in Jones’ position.

″This grandchild was his favorite,″ Binkley said. ″He loved this child very much. When he went to the hospital and saw his condition ... the situation overtook him, and he possibly did something you wouldn’t do - and he wouldn’t do, except under the circumstances.

″This was his flesh and blood lying there,″ he said.

Jennifer Martin, a friend of the toddler’s mother, testified she was sitting in an adjoining waiting room when Gann was shot.

″He (Jones) came into the waiting room ... he said he couldn’t sleep. He said, ‘I’m going to go check on Angela.’ He went around the corner, and I heard a pop ... then I heard another pop. At the time, I thought I heard five,″ she said.

″A nurse ran into the next room. Charles was standing there. I just looked at him. He had a gun in his hand. A nurse walked over, and he acted like he was going to hand her the gun, and she started screaming,″ Ms. Martin said.

Gann’s father, Robert Gann Sr., said his son was not a child abuser.

″Bobby truly, truly loved little Ryan,″ Gann said during questioning by Shriver. He said that during a family Christmas party in 1985, his son gave the boy ″probably twice as much as any of the other grandkids.″

Mrs. Reed was convicted in Sumner County Circuit Court last week of failing to protect her son from a failed marriage. Mrs. Reed, 24, testified she ″would have killed him (Gann) in a heartbeat″ if she had suspected him of abusing the boy. She faces a maximum sentence of 11 months, 29 days for the misdemeanor conviction in a sentencing hearing next month.

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