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Cousin Charged After Injured Man Awakens From Eight-Year Stupor

March 7, 1991

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) _ A man was arrested after his cousin came out of an eight-year stupor and named him as the attacker who clubbed him with a log.

Donald Ray Combs, 37, was charged Wednesday with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in the beating of Conley Holbrook.

When Holbrook, 26, called out for his mother last week, it was the first word he had spoken since his sister found him unconscious in 1982 outside their home in Linwood. Holbrook also named Combs as his attacker.

″Combs is one of the original suspects,″ said Sheriff Jim Johnson. ″But detectives had four or five different stories back then, and the victim was unconscious. I would’ve hated to take it to court.″

Combs and his girlfriend admitted in 1982 that they had been in a fight with Holbrook, said sheriff’s Maj. Billy Nail, who investigated the case.

Combs was jailed on $50,000 bail. Authorities said the girlfriend would not be charged.

The internist who has treated Holbrook since 1983 said it’s highly unusual for someone to regain consciousness after more than a few weeks in a vegetative state.

″I haven’t heard of anything like this,″ Dr. Marc Fedder said.

Conley had been able to open his eyes and smile over the past few years. He started to utter sounds in 1988 but did not communicate verbally until last week, Fedder said.

″I was astonished,″ said his mother, Effie Holbrook. ″I never gave up on him. This is just a miracle.″

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