On the day he was scheduled to face a Wise County jury for these offenses, Groves entered a plea of guilty under the Alford rule. The case was prosecuted by Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp and assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Berlin Skeen.
Evidence showed that on March 10, 2017, Thomas Groves was an offender being housed at Wallens Ridge State Prison for previous convictions in 2006 in the Appomattox County Circuit Court of First Degree Murder, Breaking & Entering While Armed with a Deadly Weapon, Use of a Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, and Grand Larceny.
On that day, Groves was being released from segregation and returned to the general population unit at the prison. During this process, Groves was being escorted by Corrections Officer Jason McElyea and retrieved two homemade weapons from his back pocket with which he attacked the officer. Groves then stated to the officer, "I am going to kill you." Groves struck the officer in the right side of his neck before Groves was subdued by officers.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said, "This case illustrates the dangers that our corrections officers encounter every day. The brave men and women who work in our prisons face long hours and stressful conditions, yet they are heroes working on the front lines to keep our community safe from violent and dangerous individuals. Today's conviction and sentence sends a clear message that we will not tolerate crimes against any law enforcement officer. We want to thank the officers involved in this case for their public service and assistance in the prosecution of this case."