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Accused Crispers shooter to take plea

BRADENTON — A former police officer accused of shooting an assistant manager at a local Crispers restaurant last year is scheduled to take a plea deal on attempted murder and other charges.

Stephen Grant, 59, will appear in court May 18, according to a plea hearing notice filed by his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Franklin Roberts. Roberts could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Grant, of Bradenton, is accused of shooting and seriously injuring Crispers employee Alyssa Whitson on Sept. 28. He is charged with attempted murder and armed robbery at the Crispers in the 6400 block of Cortez Road.

Court records show Grant is scheduled for trial on May 26. But late last week, a plea hearing was scheduled for May 18.

“Ethically, I can’t comment on plea negotiations before they occur,” said Ed Brodsky, the assistant state attorney prosecuting the case.

However, Brodsky did state that Grant faces up to life in prison for the charges.

Whitson, who survived the shooting, was on life support for weeks after the crime.

Grant, a former police officer from New Jersey, also previously worked as an assistant manager at the Crispers where the shooting took place. He had quit in July 2008.

According to court records, before the robbery and shooting, Grant told a Crispers employee that he wanted to return and work as an assistant manager again.

Police reports say officers found Whitson shot in the neck and back after they opened a locked closet in a manager’s office in the restaurant.

They found an opened safe in the office, and a deposit bag and cash missing from the business.

Detectives later found a garbage bag in a Dumpster less than mile from Grant’s apartment that had the deposit bag and Whitson’s purse in it.

The bag also had a gun, clothes and hammer soaked with blood, as well as personal mail addressed to Grant.

Since Grant’s arrest, police have taken hair, saliva and fingernail samples from him seeking to match DNA to items in the bag and in Grant’s apartment, according to court records.

During a search of Grant’s apartment, detectives seized a .22-caliber gun cleaning kit and holster, a cell phone, hair clippings and a computer. Police also found several Crispers documents, books and manuals, according to the court records.