2 Sentenced To Life For East Nashville Beating Deaths

Posted at 12:26 PM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 20:17:46-04

Two people were sentenced to life in prison following the 2015 beating deaths of a couple in East Nashville.

In court on Friday, Brandon Griswold and Whitney Gray pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder.

On September 21, 2015, Preston Claybrooks and Alexandra Grubbs were killed inside their apartment at 1921 Greenwood Ave in East Nashville. An investigation showed the couple were beaten with a hammer and a mic stand as they lay in bed at 10:15 that morning. They were also stabbed in the throat and neck.

The couple was reported missing until September 26, when Claybrooks' mother went to the door and reported she smelled a dead body to 911. Police were able to get into the apartment where they found a bloody mattress and both Claybrooks and Grubbs wrapped up in a blanket in the closet.

According to evidence read in court, there was also a note debating which way to get rid of the bodies.

Griswold and Gray were both charged with two counts of murder each. According to a Metro Nashville Police Department detective, they both admitted they owed the victims more than $600 for heroin and thought about leaving the city. 

"The defendants also stole from the victims as well," said Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kyle-Castelli. "So, there were multiple different angles going on at the same time."

Family of the victims became emotional in court after both suspects accepted the plea deal. Gray and Griswold both pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder, carrying a life sentence each.

During court, the mother of Claybrooks left the courtroom, telling the suspects to rot in hell.

Despite this, Kyle-Castelli said this is an easier route for the family.

"I think that today's sentence and what happened in there provides a level of closure that I don't think the victim's family would have had. If we had proceeded to trial in two separate trials," she said.

Included in evidence were two confessions, the apartment scene where the murders were committed, but also some unexpected help from homeless people. The pair went on the run for two days following when police discovered the crime scene. Gray and Griswold were taken care of for two days at a camp at the Harding and Trousdale area and left before the homeless realized who they were.

A homeless person then handed over personal items from the suspects to a train employee and told them to turn the items into police.

"They were instrumental in giving some of the property back to Metro Police after [the suspects] were arrested," said Kyle-Castelli