(RICHMOND) - A Fort Bend County jury sentenced Gregory Kennith Wise to life in prison the Wednesday before Thanksgiving after convicting him of murder two days earlier. The 33-year-old Missouri City man was tried for the stabbing death of Brandon Yarbough in 2019.
According to lead prosecutor Traci Bennett, Wise and Yarbough both lived in the same area of Missouri City and frequented the convenience store where the crime occurred. On June 7, 2019, the victim was standing outside the store while the defendant was sitting outside a nearby business. They were outside for approximately 15 minutes before Wise attacked Yarbough and stabbed him 12 times with a knife. The victim died in front of the store and Wise fled to a nearby group home where he resided. Wise disposed of the knife and once home, changed his clothes and hid them in the closet.
The ensuing police investigation recovered surveillance video from the store that recorded the stabbing along with images of the defendant inside the store an hour earlier. The store clerk recognized him as a regular customer, leading police to believe Wise lived close by. Detectives drove through the neighborhood and spoke with a man walking by who knew where the defendant lived. Wise was located and ultimately arrested. The defendant denied that he knew the victim or that he was at the store at the time of the murder.
During the investigation, authorities discovered a video of Wise and Yarbough boxing in the street a week prior to the murder. Otherwise, there was no evidence of an ongoing problem between the two. At trial, the defendant testified that there had been other problems between him and the victim. He claimed that he needed to defend himself from the victim to justify the stabbing. The jury disagreed.
The state introduced evidence of the defendant’s prior conviction for felony deadly conduct during the punishment phase. The charge was a result of Wise shooting up his apartment complex in 2017. They also learned of three assault convictions where Wise attacked people in the Waller County courtroom where his deadly conduct case was pending. The defense presented evidence of the defendant’s ongoing mental illness for which he had been repeatedly treated; however, the evidence also showed that he was sane at the time of the offense and understood his actions were wrong.
Lead prosecutor Traci Bennett said, “Based on the evidence, it was clear that Wise could no longer be trusted to remain in our community. Making prison the only place where the public’s safety could be guaranteed.”
“The unexpected loss of life is tragic and I offer my deepest sympathies to Mr. Yarbough’s family,” said District Attorney Brian Middleton. “I hope this verdict offers some measure of justice, knowing it cannot replace their loved one. But it can keep others safe by removing the violence that the defendant often brought upon our community.”