Suspects' Family Speaks Out in Corning

APRIL 18, 2006 -- POSTED AT 6:00 P.M. CST

CORNING, AR -- Authorities are calling last weekend’s attack in Corning a racially motivated hate crime, but a family member of those charged says he doesn’t understand how this could happen to his family.


After Saturday's fight on Stephens Lane , a black 19-year-old teenager is left clinging to life support in the hospital and 3 suspects, all related, are charged with felonies.


38 year old Donald Groning still remains behind bars facing two charges: First degree battery and tampering with evidence. A juvenile is also being detained in Craighead County , facing a first degree battery charge as well.


But Donald Groning's mother, 60 year old Wanda Emmons was also arrested. We tried to talk with Emmons, who posted bond late Monday night, but she wouldn't comment on camera. She did say, however, that the full story hasn't been told.

"They seemed to be a happy family. I just can't imagine Donald doing that," says Milburn.


And even more, the family is directly related to Corning 's Police Chief, Jim Groning. His son is Donald Groning and his grandson is the juvenile charged in the case. We caught up with the Police Chief's uncle, Albert Milburn. He said this whole situation has left him at a loss for words.


"We love them. It's hard. It was hard for me to believe. There's got to be something else behind it," says Milburn.


So why does the family think this all might have happened?


"I don't really know. It could be an old grudge or something. Don is a better person than that" says Milburn.


But regardless, the family had one major concern for now.


"I just hope and pray that everything comes out for the best on both sides," says Milburn.


We also tried to talk with the Police Chief, Jim Groning, but he refused to comment on the situation. We also checked the current condition of Craig Matthews, the victim hospitalized in this case. He remains in critical but stable condition.