Suspect in Alleged Hate Crime Back in Court

June 5, 2006--Posted at 5:45 p.m. CDT

CORNING, AR--Donald Groning one of the suspects involved with the alleged hate crime in Corning was back in a Clay County courtroom Monday for the plea and arraignment hearing.
Groning is being held on a 250,000 dollar bond for the beating of a Poplar Bluff teenager. The question at hand, is $250,000 too high of a bond for a man suspected of a hate crime?

"The court considered the factors that primarily bond is intended to ensure the defendant appears in court when he was supposed to," said 2nd Judicial Prosecutor Brent Davis.

The defense wanted the bond lowered to $25,000, a number Groning could afford, while the prosecution wanted the number to remain at $250,000 because of the seriousness of the crime.

"The very severity of the nature of the offense involved and the severity of the injuries involved that is one factor to consider," said Davis.

The victim, 19 year old Craig Matthews, suffered 20 different skull fractures and five bruises on the brain because of the attack, but recently returned home. The defense argued that Groning was a life long Corning resident whose family ties didn't suggest he would leave town. Jim Groning, the Corning Police Chief and father of the suspect, was called as a witness that stated the bond was just unrealistic for his son Donald.

"The judge reduced the bond down to $75,000 but set very strict conditions on it, no alcohol, no drugs, no deadly weapons, can't leave the state of Akansas, and must maintain employment," said Davis.

Groning is charged with first degree battery in addition to tampering with evidence. His mother, Wanda Emmons was also in court, and has been charged with hindering apprehension, tampering with evidence, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The case is currently pending with both Groning and Emmons expected back in court for the pre-trial on August 31st and a jury trial starting October 3rd.