Legal cases in 9-year-old Rock Hill girl’s death continue in civil courts

07/19/2014 7:14 PM

07/20/2014 7:47 AM

Ronald Fred Gregory’s guilty pleas last week ended the criminal proceedings in the murders of his wife and 9-year-old granddaughter.

But it may take years to resolve all of the civil cases.

Gregory admitted shooting Barbara Gregory, 71, and Mia on March 21. Authorities testified that Gregory, 68, told them that Mia died an hour after he shot her. At one point, she had asked: “Paw, Paw, when am I going to stop hurting?”

Paul Rodgers, Mia’s maternal grandfather, said he “will never stop fighting for Mia, and I will never stop trying to get justice for her after what her other grandfather did to her.”

“She did not have to die. But he killed her. It was a sick and brutal killing. My granddaughter, beautiful, she suffered and died after he shot her. And it never should have happened.”

Mia’s father, Kevin Gregory, is the personal representative of Mia’s estate. But the girl’s uncle, Eric Rodgers, has filed a lawsuit asking that Kevin Gregory be removed as the estate’s personal representative.

Rodgers’ suit in probate court alleges that “Kevin Gregory failed to reasonably provide support for Mia Rodgers during her lifetime and did not otherwise provide for her needs.” The lack of support shows Kevin Gregory is unsuitable to be Mia’s representative, the suit alleges.

Paul Rodgers has claimed in court documents that he and his wife, Nina, raised Mia almost exclusively and that claims by Kevin Gregory of providing support and having an integral role in Mia’s life are lies.

More, Rodgers has argued in court documents that Kevin Gregory has a financial conflict of interest in being Mia’s personal representative because his father’s assets would have to be spent on defending an expected wrongful death lawsuit.

Kevin Gregory, through his lawyer, Dan D’Agostino, has denied all the allegations made against him by the Rodgers family. Kevin Gregory denies that he did not support Mia or have a “meaningful” role in her life.

More, Kevin Gregory alleges in his response to the probate lawsuit that in 2013, Mia’s mother, Angie Benoit, illegally sent the girl from Texas to South Carolina to live with the Rodgers. Sending Mia to live with the Rodgers to try to evade the Texas custody system was in defiance of a Texas court order, Kevin Gregory states.

While she battled leukemia, Mia’s mother, Angie Rodgers Benoit, asked a judge in Texas to terminate Kevin Gregory’s parental rights. Kevin Gregory fought that attempt in Texas, then filed another lawsuit for custody of Mia in South Carolina in September.

Mia’s maternal grandparents, Paul and Nina Rodgers, had custody of Mia last year because of their daughter’s terminal illness. In October a York County Family Court judge awarded joint custody to Kevin Gregory and his parents, with the Rodgers getting visitation rights and weekend visits.

Paul Rodgers and his son, Eric, also filed a lawsuit after the killings to try to keep Kevin and Ronald Gregory from depleting all of Ronald Gregory’s money. That step was taken as a precursor of an expected wrongful death civil lawsuit against Ronald Gregory.

Ronald Gregory has close to $1 million in real estate, money, retirement benefits, vehicles, and other assets, court documents have shown.

The Rodgers failed to get an injunction to keep Kevin Gregory from spending his father’s money. D’Agostino, Kevin Gregory’s lawyer, said the Rodgers had no standing to get in the middle of the Gregorys’ money and “wasted time and attorney’s fees” in even asking for the injunction.

All those legal barbs and allegations, claims and countershots, were filed before Ronald Fred Gregory pleaded guilty Monday to killing his wife and Mia. However, the end of the criminal action does not change the Rodgers’ requests to seek damages from Ronald Gregory in civil court, or the request to have Mia’s father removed from handling her estate.

After the issue of who will represent Mia’s interests in probate court is decided, an expected wrongful death lawsuit will follow, said Randy Hood, the lawyer for Paul and Eric Rodgers.

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