MMA trainer guilty of beating 70-year-old man

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Meredith Scruggs spent several months in the hospital after a roadside attack in 2020 in Gaston County. The mixed martial arts trainer accused of beating him was found guilty on Friday.

The verdict

A jury found Kyle Gray guilty of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. A judge sentenced him to 75 days in jail, which is the maximum for that offense.

The defendant has already served that time pre-trial and the judge ordered $22,530 in restitution as a civil judgment.

Suspect takes the stand

“I’m defending myself. I was defending myself,” Gray said Friday afternoon before the judgment was passed down.

Gray, an MMA trainer, took the stand in Gaston County court on Friday. He was accused of beating Meredith Scruggs, who was 70 years old at the time, in a roadside attack in August 2020.

Gray’s defense attorney, Jeremy Smith, said his actions four years ago were self-defense.

“I feared he was going to kill me,” Gray said.

“Based on what?” Smith asked.

“He was grabbing in his pocket for a weapon,” Gray said.

Gray’s attorney says this started with a road rage incident near Wilkinson Boulevard and Main Street, where Scruggs threatened to kill Gray. But prosecutors argued Gray used his martial arts background to almost take Scruggs’ life.

Prosecutor Rebekah Mills questioned Gray about his professional training.

“How did you practice that during training?” she asked.

“You would grapple with other individuals,” Gray said.

“You were practicing combat with those individuals?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“And that included the grappling?” she asked.

“It did,” he said.

“Did it include striking?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

After the roadside incident, Scruggs spent several months in the hospital. Despite Scruggs’ injuries, Gray’s attorney maintained Scruggs started the fight.

Opening arguments

Channel 9′s Ken Lemon was inside the courtroom Tuesday for opening arguments. During Tuesday’s proceedings, Gray’s attorney said Scruggs threatened to kill Gray and even put him in a hold.

Jurors heard those words followed by testimony from the man still impacted by the beating four years ago. Scruggs, now 74, testified that he spent months in the hospital after his confrontation with Gray. It’s a fight he says changed his life.

“I have trouble seeing out of this eye, I had to get glasses -- I never wore glasses in my entire life,” Scruggs said while on the witness stand Tuesday.

The former college athlete and high school wrestling and football coach said he had a broken rib, punctured lung, staples in his head, and a fractured skull.

Prosecutors say Gray is trained to use his hands to inflict pain, and they say he used that training to almost take a man’s life. But Scruggs admits he doesn’t remember much more than the few moments before the fight on Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont.

“After that, do you remember any other details?” Prosecutor Rebekah Mills asked Scruggs.

“No, ma’am,” he responded.

Scruggs says his next memory was waking up in the hospital 20 days later.

Meredith Scruggs in the hospital

“When I woke up, I had like three or four tubes in me,” Scruggs said.

Gray’s attorney says Gray remembers the confrontation, and he says it started with a road rage incident and the older man shouting in traffic.

“[Scruggs] uses profane language and threatens to shoot [Gray],” said Jeremy Smith, Gray’s attorney.

Smith says when the two men stopped at a gas station, Scruggs, who was 70 years old at the time but several inches taller than Gray, started the fight.

“Scruggs grabs Kyle, he puts him a hold,” Smith said.

The attorney said jurors would learn what Gray remembers.

“You will hear from Mr. Gray, he will testify, there’s no doubt about that,” Smith said during opening arguments.

(WATCH: Woman shot in car believes she was victim of road rage)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV