Virginia shooting case goes to grand jury
NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk, Va., grand jury will now get the chance to decide if there is enough evidence to support returning a true bill against a Wisconsin native in connection with the alleged fatal shooting on March 9 of Yorkville native Kristopher Klubert.
The man accused of killing Klubert is Austin T. Greening, 22, a native of Wisconsin. Both men were on active duty with the United States Navy at the time of Klubert’s death, held the same rank and were assigned the same duty.
Greening remains free on $25,000 bond following a recent court appearance.
If the grand jury decides there is not enough evidence to return a true bill, and instead returns a not true bill, charges of second degree murder and of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony now faced by Austin T. Greening in connection with the death of Klubert, 24, would likely be dropped.
However, if the matter eventually comes to trial and Greening is found guilty on both charges currently being pursued against him, he would face a possible sentence on the murder charge of 5 to 40 years in state prison, and a mandatory three-year prison term for the commission of a crime involving a firearm.
The grand jury is expected to convene on Aug. 7, according to Amanda Howie, director of communications for the Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney.
A probable cause, or preliminary hearing, was held for Greening Wednesday morning in the Commonwealth’s General District Court in Norfolk where – as a result – the matters were both certified by the court to be handed over to the next session of the grand jury.
If the grand jury returns a true bill in connection with the charges Greening is currently facing in connection with the death of Klubert, the matter would move forward to be handled at the circuit court level, and the setting of a trial date would be anticipated, according to Howie.
Several members of Klubert’s immediate family made the trip to Norfolk from Yorkville early this week to be in the courtroom at the time of the hearing Wednesday.
Greening was present in the courtroom for the hearing Wednesday, and was represented by Norfolk-based attorney James Broccoletti, who intends to put forward the argument that the death of Klubert was a tragic accident and that the two men were very close.
In a phone conversation after the hearing Wednesday, Greening’s attorney said he intends to put the quality of the witness’s testimony into question via his personal legal history.
Both sides in this case have already established there had been a friendship that developed between Greening and Klubert, and have noted previously the accused had been a guest in the family home in Yorkville.
Greening and Klubert were both serving on the same ship in the U.S. Navy, the USS Carter Hall, and had been expecting to depart on a deployment the day after the fatal shooting happened.
Initial police reports noted Klubert had been found in the street outside the apartment complex where Greening was a resident.
However, Howie confirmed that evidence and testimony put on Wednesday indicated the two men had been playing video games and handling several guns known to have been in the residence at the time of the shooting.
Initial evidence offered during Wednesday’s probable cause hearing in the General District Court asserted that an argument developed between the two men that was “possibly over money.” The situation escalated, and “the defendant shot the victim,” shared Howie.
Several sources, including Howie, confirmed the alleged shooting happened inside Greening’s apartment.
Participating in Wednesday’s brief proceeding from the prosecuting attorney’s office was Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eileen Addison.
According to preliminary evidence offered during the hearing Wednesday by a detective on the case and an individual referred to by prosecutors’ staff as a “cooperating” witness, Klubert’s death was the result of an argument rooted in a video game they had been playing and a disagreement over money.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Howie confirmed the sitting judge heard testimony from a police department detective and a “cooperating witness.”
Officials in Norfolk confirmed that if Greening waives his right to a preliminary hearing, they do not expect to put any evidence in the matter.
According to police reports, the incident came to the attention of local law enforcement officials via a 911 call placed at about 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2013. The report included information about a man just having been shot, and that he was lying, wounded, in the street in a residential section of Norfolk.
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