Just a couple months before he was due to be married, Josh Gentry came to McCurtain County in March 2022 with some friends for what was supposed to be an enjoyable bachelor’s party weekend.
He ended up in a hospital on a ventilator and had to have part of his skull removed.
“He was not expected to live,” the man’s father said in a courtroom Tuesday.
What happened almost two years ago is now what jurors are considering in McCurtain County District Court.
A former security officer at Chiggers is on trial, charged with aggravated assault and battery for what happened to Gentry.
Assistant District Attorneys Johnny Loard and Jeff Mixon claim it was the illegal actions of Randall Ashton Dollar, 26, that changed Gentry’s life forever.
Defense attorney J.P. Longacre says Dollar acted in self-defense when dealing with Gentry.
Gentry’s three friends who stayed with him at a cabin owned by Gentry’s parents testified Tuesday about what happened that weekend.
On Friday, they went fishing, had dinner at a restaurant, then went first to Hochatown Saloon to hang out and then on to Chiggers.
Nothing unpleasant happened.
Then on Saturday, they played golf at Cedar Creek for a few hours, had hamburgers and watched March Madness games before again going to the two clubs as they had the night before.
Nick O’Donnell, 24, of Oklahoma City, one of Gentry’s three friends at the cabin that weekend, said there had been a few altercations at Chiggers that night, and just before 2 a.m., everyone was told to leave. O’Donnell said once outside, some 20 to 30 people were hanging out, with some stopping by a food truck that was serving hamburgers.
One of the security guards, Shane Farley, came up and began accusing the men of having caused problems in the bar, O’Donnell said.
He pulled out a Taser and ordered the men to leave. Suddenly O’Donnell felt his legs swept out from under him and he fell to the ground.
“Shane Farley attacked you?” asked prosecutor Mixon.
“And you hadn’t done anything?”
One of his friends, Dylan Helms, helped him up. His head was in pain and he felt nauseous, so he headed their truck, an extended cab Toyota Tundra.
He saw Josh get struck by another bouncer, while another of his group, Nick Theodoro, was being struck by multiple people in the crowd.
O’Donnell said he ran over to the security guard, Farley, and asked why people were hitting them.
He saw Josh go to the ground after another security guard struck him, and O’Donnell helped Josh get to his feet. Josh was holding the back of his head, and when he removed his hand, it was covered in blood.
They got Josh into the passenger side of the truck. He and Theodoro got into the back of the truck, but crowd members tried to drag them back out and kept the doors open.
Finally, Helms drove off with all three doors still open, and took him to the hospital.
The prosecutor showed jurors a video of Dollar approaching Josh Gentry while he lay on the ground. He kicked Gentry in the head.
On cross-examination, Longacre focused on the drinking that day. O’Donnell said all four had just drunk beers at the cabin. At Chiggers, only three of them were drinking, since Helms was their designated driver. O’Donnell did not believe any of the other three were drunk.
Longacre claimed O’Donnell had argued with the security guard and he admitted that he had. He also admitted that they did not leave when Farley told them to.
Helms gave the most detailed account of that night. He denied drinking any alcohol except one beer while playing golf that afternoon.
He said after everyone was ordered out of the club, he went with Theodoro to get a hamburger at the food truck. It took a long time, and he went over to where John was talking to a local man, Shelby George, about fishing and hunting. Then he heard Theodoro and a blonde-haired woman arguing, and she slapped the hamburger in a Styrofoam container out of his hand.
That was when things escalated, he said.
One security guard pulled out a baton Taser and put O’Donnell on the ground. He helped his friend up and told him it was time to leave.
People surrounded Gentry and Theodoro, then he saw Dollar push Gentry into a truck, punch him three times, and Gentry fell to the ground.
He heard Dollar say, “This is how McCurtain County rolls.”
He saw Gentry lying on the ground, not trying to defend himself, but did not witness the security officer kicking him. He helped Gentry get into the truck. He said Gentry was conscious, but dazed and didn’t know what was going on.
Gentry’s father, Scott Gentry, told jurors that his son was airlifted from Idabel to St. John’s hospital in Tulsa for three weeks, where he could only communicate by squeezing a person’s hand.
He spent eight months in an Atlanta rehab center, and had to relearn talking, walking, etc.
His vision is only 50 percent, much of it lost on the right side of his body, and he has not regained full use of his right arm and hand. To this day, he cannot drive because of his limited vision and his right ankle.
The woman he was scheduled to marry, Morgan, did agree to go forward with the marriage, and she is seated beside him in the courtroom this week, occasionally tearing up as the courtroom details and video are sometimes very powerful.