Appeals court reverses twice-convicted sex offender’s lifetime GPS monitoring

Appeals court reverses twice-convicted sex offender’s lifetime GPS monitoring
Torrey Dale Grady (Source: NC Department of Corrections)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A state appeals court has reversed a ruling that would have required a twice-convicted sex offender wear a GPS monitoring bracelet for the rest of his life.

In 1997, Torrey Dale Grady, 39, pleaded no contest to a second-degree sex offense, and in 2006, he pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a child. Both incidents took place in New Hanover County.

Although Grady was not initially required to enroll in the state's satellite-based monitoring program (SBM) after either conviction, in 2013 the court held an SBM "bring-back" hearing and determined his convictions were both "sexually violent offenses" and ordered him to enroll in the program for the remainder of his life.

In his appeal, which was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Grady argued the lifetime enrollment in the SBM program violated his right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, as provided by the Fourth Amendment. The nation's highest court remanded the case for N.C. courts to determine the reasonableness of Grady's lifetime enrollment in the program.

In a July 2016 hearing, the trial court again determined life-long monitoring of Grady was reasonable; however, the appeals court disagreed in a 2-1 ruling (below) released on Tuesday.

[T]he State failed to present any evidence (in the hearing) concerning its specific interest in monitoring defendant, or of the general procedures used to monitor unsupervised offenders. Instead, the State submitted copies of the two sex offense judgments and defendant's criminal record, arguing that defendant himself was "Exhibit Number 1" of SBM's success in deterring recidivists, because "[s]ince he's been monitored, guess what: He hasn't recommitted, he hasn't been charged with another sex offense." However, Officer Pace, the State's sole witness, testified that the ET-1 (ankle bracelet) cannot actually prevent an offense from occurring.

The lone dissenting judge opined that unless the state's SBM program is deemed unconstitutional at face value, the "burden of proof" the State is required to show when arguing GPS monitoring is reasonable is greater than the level the General Assembly has set.

In March, Grady was convicted of three sex offender violations – verification of registration information violation, failure to change address and failure to register as a sex offender, according to N.C. Department of Corrections records.

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