Port Angeles man sentenced to 117 months in knife attack

John Greystoke of Port Angeles examines a notepad during his trial for first-degree assault during an appearance in Clallam County Superior Court. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

John Greystoke of Port Angeles examines a notepad during his trial for first-degree assault during an appearance in Clallam County Superior Court. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — An apologetic John Greystoke has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for stabbing a house guest in the abdomen.

Greystoke, 51, was convicted Oct. 12 of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing Adam Gross with a 3½-inch blade, slicing open his small intestine.

Greystoke was sentenced Wednesday to 117 months — or nine years, nine months — in state prison to be followed by three years of community custody.

The sentence issued by Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly was on the low end of the standard sentencing range.

Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson had requested for Greystoke a 147-month sentence — the high end of the standard range.

Greystoke read a statement of apology to Gross in open court. Gross did not attend the sentencing hearing.

“I apologize for hurting you,” Greystoke said.

“My mental illness got the better of me and the voices were too much to bear, and I just blacked out. I hope that some day you can forgive me.”

Greystoke had two mental health evaluations at Western State Hospital, both of which revealed that he exhibited mental health problems but had the capacity to stand trial, court papers said.

Greystoke chose to represent himself in the case. He relied heavily on assistance from stand-by counsel Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender during the four-day trial and in other court proceedings.

At sentencing, Johnson argued that Greystoke caused a serious injury to Gross, engaged in victim blaming, demonstrated a lack of remorse and remains a danger to the community.

Physicians testified that Gross likely would have died were it not for the life-saving measures of Olympic Medical Center staff, Johnson said.

“He was virtually eviscerated,” Johnson said of Gross.

“His small intestine was lacerated. The only way to repair that wound was by removing approximately one foot of the small intestine.”

Port Angeles police said Greystoke stabbed Gross just outside the door of Greystoke’s apartment on the 800 block of South C Street in April 2016 when Gross returned from an errand. Gross had been staying at the residence with his girlfriend.

Officer David Dombrowski said he saw Gross’ intestines hanging out of his torso from a severe laceration.

After the stabbing, Greystoke ran more than a mile from the scene and threw the knife into a bush, police said. Greystoke was seen running wearing tight pink leggings and a pink and beige jacket after the stabbing, police said.

Greystoke denied that the stabbing was premeditated. He said that Gross had stolen items from him and that he had ordered Gross and his girlfriend to leave the apartment.

“I was just merely defending myself and my property at my door,” Greystoke said in court Wednesday.

Gasnick requested a reduced sentenced for Greystoke based on the mitigating circumstance of a mental illness.

Melly found that Greystoke exhibits signs of a mental illness but that his illness does not rise to the level of a diminished capacity.

“In short order [after the stabbing], you disappeared from the scene because you knew what you had done is something that you shouldn’t have done,” Melly told Greystoke.

“And along the way, realizing that you still had the weapon, you threw it away. It’s difficult for the court to say that you didn’t have the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of your conduct.”

Melly said he did not dispute that Greystoke suffers from a mental illness.

“I think the fact that you do suffer from mental health issues does justify the court, then, in imposing the lowest end of the range that I possibly can under the circumstances,” Melly said.

“I think that your mental health does have an impact on the decision of the court.”

Melly said he hoped that Greystoke would have access to mental health treatment during his prison term.

“I would like nothing more than to see you in a treatment facility rather than a prison cell,” Melly said.

Gasnick, who has been practicing law in Clallam County for 28 years, said Greystoke’s case raised a “fundamental philosophical problem” in the world of criminal law.

“Just because someone is competent to stand trial, we have to ask, does that mean they’re competent to represent themselves?” Gasnick said.

“As I understand the law, those are one and the same thing. I’ve got to say, I’m not so sure that they should be, and perhaps this trial demonstrates exactly that point.”

Gasnick added: “If I’ve ever seen a case that serves as an avatar of this philosophical conundrum, this case is it.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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