|Contact John Wesley Griffin, Jr.|
|John Wesley Griffin, Jr.
Eastern NY Correctional Facility
30 Institution Rd
P.O. Box 338
Napanoch, NY 12458-0338
|DOB: May 29, 1973|
|John Wesley Griffin's case data|
|State and County||New York, Queens County|
|Crime||2nd Degree Murder (125.25 (1))|
|Date of Crime||January 31, 1994|
|Date of Arrest||March 8, 1994|
|Date of Conviction||February 27, 1996|
|Sentence||25 Years to Life|
|Age at the Date of Crime||20|
|Contributing Factors||Perjury, Official Misconduct, (Ineffectiveness of Counsel)|
|Did DNA evidence contribute to the conviction?||No|
|Is there DNA evidence to test?||N/A|
Octavious”Ox” Washington, a black young man with a history of violent crimes, was killed by several gun shots in front of a restaurant and grocery store on 109-18 Sutphin Boulevard (Hameyer 24hrs Deli Grocery Store) between Ferndale and 109th Avenue in Jamaica, Queens County (New York) around 11:25 p.m. on January 31, 1994.
The police did not have a suspect until Detective Brendan Lally did a background check on victim Octavious Washington and found out that he had robbed and shot his former friend (then 15-year old) John Griffin six (6) years earlier – in 1988. Griffin also had a criminal record and was on parole at the time of the homicide. He became Detective Lally’s only suspect.
Detective Lally told parole officer Timothy Stewart to arrest John Griffin the next time when Griffin would come to Steward’s office. Griffin was arrested on March 8, 1994 in the evening. On March 11, 1994, the indictment (# 1001/ 94) charged him with intentional murder (125.25 (1)), depraved indifference murder (125.25 (2)), 2nd and 3rd degree of possession of a weapon (265.03 and 265.02 (4)). On December 12, 1995 a jury found Griffin guilty of intentional murder.
John Griffin had a job, his own apartment, a girlfriend whom he wanted to marry, and an alibi. No physical evidence links Griffin to the crime. No gun was found. The only evidence implicating Griffin was the unreliable testimony by the state’s key witness Antoine Scott. His account was contradicted by the medical and ballistics evidence.
John Griffin’s prior criminal record and positive outlook
Indictment numbers: 0562-89 Q and 1213-89 Q.
John Griffin had a violent altercation with Octavious Washington at the young age of 15. The juvenile pleaded guilty to attempted murder, was sentenced to 2-6 years, and was jailed from December 1988 until June 1992.
Octavious Washington was still in jail when Griffin was released. Washington remained there until May of 1993 (TT 1016-1020).
John Griffin was again arrested on March 23, 1993. All of his criminal charges were dismissed, but he had violated parole for a curfew violation and was sent back to jail for 7 months. He was released from Rikers Island on November 9, 1993, and lived at his mother’s home.
In the meantime, he had gotten to know his girlfriend Vanessa Johnson in September of 1993 and dated her.
Griffin was employed at Produce Plus H&H and Sons located on 157-05 Linden Boulevard, Jamaica, (Queens County), New York. On December 23, 1993, the parole officer Timothy Stewart went to this address to verify that Griffin actually worked there.
Griffin rented a small apartment at 93-23 207th Street in Queens Village. Stewart was notified and made a surprise visit to Griffin’s new home on January 29, 1994. The parole officer briefly searched the apartment to see if Griffin complied with his parole rules. There was no contraband found and Stewart told Griffin, “I’ll see you February 14, 1994.” Griffin went to make that parole visit and was told that he was doing well. Griffin was given the status to report every three (3) weeks from that day on.
Four days later, on February 18, 1994, Detective Brendan Lally from Queens 103rd Homicide Squad contacted Stewart and asked him to arrest Griffin the next parole visit on March 8, 1994.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The numbers in the brackets of the text below refer to the source of the testimonies and statements. (TT) stands for “Trial Transcript” and the numerical references are to the pages. The trial commenced on November 27, 1995 and concluded on December 12, 1995. Because John Griffin gave his only copy of the trial transcript to someone who has never returned it, we cannot provide those documents here. However, the papers are available to the public at the Queens Supreme Court, 125-01 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens, NY 11415, USA.
The Prosecutor’s Theory
Antoine Scott was at home on the evening of January 31, 1994 when his cousin, David Johnson, came to visit (TT 361-362). When Johnson decided to go home, Scott agreed to drive him. The two (2) men drove along the Van Wyck Expressway. After exiting the Expressway, they saw Octavious Washington. Scott agreed to give him a lift to his home (TT 362-364, 408-412).
(Note: Scott claimed that he had met Washington only once before. He knew from speaking with his cousin Johnson, that Washington had recently been released from jail. (TT 414-415))
(Note: Washington carried an Amtrak ticket with him. According to David Johnson, they wanted to take him to the train station – not to his home.)
The three (3) men then drove to the house of Johnson’s girlfriend.
(Note: Why? Washington had a duffle bag with him, which he left at the house with Johnson’s girlfriend. (TT 506-510, 542-546) Why?)
After a while in her house, Johnson returned to the car and he, Scott and Washington drove to Sutphin Boulevard between Ferndale and 109th Avenues to buy food (TT 365-366, 420-421, 425). When they arrived at this location, Washington and Johnson walked into a Chinese take-out restaurant while Scott waited in his car (TT 366, 437).
(Note: They still did not take Washington home.)
While Washington remained in the restaurant, Johnson went next door to a grocery store. As Scott sat on the hood of his car (Note: It was freezing cold and Johnson testified that Scott had remained in his car with the engine running.), a man, whom he identified as the perpetrator, walked past him, looked inside the restaurant, and then walked across the street. A few minutes later, Washington walked out of the restaurant and stood outside. Scott then noticed a group of ten (10) or eleven (11) young men walking behind him. John Griffin allegedly emerged from this group and walked across the street to where Washington was standing, a distance of about 35 feet from where Scott was observing. When Griffin pulled a gun from his waistband, Washington tried to grab it from him and the gun fired up in the air. As the struggle continued, the defendant lowered the gun and fired it twice in Washington’s stomach. As Washington fell to the ground, Griffin pointed the gun inches away and fired three (3) times at Washington’s head (TT 368-372, 380, 432, 438-439, 442-470).
After Johnson exited the grocery store, Scott drove him home to call the police.
(Note: Why did they not call the police and an ambulance from the restaurant, grocery store, a neighbor’s phone, or from the pay phone nearby? Why did nobody of them stay with the victim, who was still breathing?)
Johnson and Scott then drove back to the scene of the shooting, where they saw police officers placing Washington in an ambulance. Scott followed the police to the hospital and spoke to officers there. He was then taken to the 103rd Precinct where he described what he had seen to the police (TT 373-379).
Subsequently, a detective telephoned Scott and informed him that a line-up was going to be held and that he was needed to identify somebody. The detective drove Scott to the police station where he viewed a line-up and identified the person holding the number one (1) as the man who had shot Octavious Washington. He was then shown a coat that had a brand name “Columbia” and identified it as the same coat which the killer wore on the night of the shooting (TT 378, 380-383, 396-401, 472-473).
David Johnson was on parole for an armed robbery conviction for which he had been imprisoned for 3 ½ years (TT 500-504, 563-566).
(Note: Johnson pleaded guilty in 1989 to armed robbery and criminal possession of a shotgun in a similar store setting located within three (3) blocks from the crime scene (TT 500-504, 563-566). Johnson was caught and arrested at the crime scene, then sentenced to 3 ½ to 7 years for robbery and 2 ½ to 7 years for the possession of weapon. At the time of Griffin’s trial, Johnson was on parole.)
On the night of January 31, 1994, he was riding home with his cousin when he saw his friend Octavious Washington in the vicinity of Linden Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway. After his cousin agreed to give Washington a lift to the train station, the three (3) men drove to Johnson’s house where Washington left a duffle bag. Johnson, Scott and Washington then drove a few blocks to a Chinese restaurant on Sutphin (TT 506-510, 542-546).
(Note: Antoine Scott testified that he agreed to drive Washington home – not to the train station. Again: Why did Washington leave his duffle bag at the house of Johnson’s girlfriend, if he really was on his way to the train station and only coincidentally got a ride? What was in that bag? Is the truth that they robbed Washington and shot him themselves?)
After Johnson and Washington placed their orders at the Chinese restaurant, Johnson went next door to a grocery store to buy some additional items while Washington remained outside. He then heard what sounded like a struggle and when he turned, he saw Washington’s hands upraised and then heard the sound of a gunshot and saw a flash. Johnson immediately got down on the floor and then heard five (5) or six (6) more shots before he got up and looked outside and saw Washington lying on the ground (TT 511-515, 547-560, 566-568).
After the shooting ended, Johnson left the store, looked down at Washington and then ran to his cousin who had remained in his car, and rode home and had his girlfriend and mother-in-law telephone the police. He then returned to the scene, spoke to police officers and proceeded to Mary Immaculate Hospital. There, he spoke with detectives who later took him to the 103rd Precinct and showed him photographs to see if he could recognize anybody. However, he was unable to make an identification (TT 516-521, 568-571).
(Note: 1) Johnson just looked down to his friend, who had become a shooting victim and who was still breathing. Johnson did not help him; he let him alone in the cold, and just drove off. 2) Scott testifies that he was sitting on the hood of his car, while Johnson testifies that Scott remained in his car all the time. 3) Who is Johnson’s girlfriend and her mother? Why did they not testify?)
Police Officer Kevin Craig was on motor patrol duty at 11:20 p.m., on the night in question when he received a radio call reporting shots fired at Sutphin Boulevard and Ferndale Avenue. Upon his arrival at the location, he observed a man lying on his back on the sidewalk in front of a grocery store. Upon closer examination, he noticed a pool of blood around the man who appeared to have been shot about the head and upper body (TT 578-579, 596).
After calling for an ambulance, Craig attempted unsuccessfully to obtain information about the incident from several bystanders who were milling about. He then assisted in securing the crime scene and observed a bullet on the floor inside the grocery store. Later that night, he went to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he learned that the man who had been lying on the ground was dead (TT 580-583, 593). The following day, he identified the man’s body at the morgue (TT 585-586).
Police Officer Richard Mecabe went to 314 West 40th Street in Manhattan on the afternoon of March 8, 1994 and met John Griffin who was wearing dark pants and a dark blue jacket. Mecabe transported Griffin to the 103rd Precinct where he turned him over to the custody of Detective Brendan Lally (TT 622-625).
Detective Brendan Lally was assigned to investigate the death of Octavious Washington on January 31, 1994. At 11:25 p.m., he responded to the scene and observed a black baseball cap, a frozen pool of blood, and two (2) deformed bullets on the ground in front of a store at 109-18 Sutphin Boulevard. Entering the store, he observed a broken piece of glass and another deformed bullet on the floor. He also observed a bullet hole on a glass partition on the entrance door (TT 630-632, 854-855, 883-887).
He returned to the 103rd Precinct at 12:50 a.m. on February 1, 1994 and learned that two (2) of Washington’s friends were at the hospital inquiring about his condition. Scott and Johnson were then brought to the station house and questioned by Lally and his partner. Subsequently, Lally conducted a computer check of Octavious Washington to obtain information about his background and obtained details of his arrest record, including the names of people who had filed complaints against him (TT 641-644, 869-870). John Griffin was the complainant on one of these cases. In another case, Washington had shot at two (2) police officers. However, Lally never spoke with either of those officers (TT 671, 881-883).
(Note: Why did Detective Brendan Lally not speak with those police officers whom Octavious Washington had shot at?)
Lally returned to the scene on at least nine (9) occasions over the next two (2) weeks, attempting to locate witnesses who might be able to identify the person who shot Washington. On these occasions, he spoke with a number of people whose names he could not recall (TT 644-645, 860-865)
(Note: Why did Detective Brendan Lally not make field notes as investigators usually do in order to write accurate reports?)
Eventually, he determined that John Griffin was the suspect in his investigation and on March 8, 1994, Griffin was brought to the 103rd Precinct by Detective Mecabe (TT 646-648). When he encountered Griffin, he noticed that he was wearing a black rain coat with the brand name Columbia and took the coat from hi and safeguarded it (TT 649).
(Note: According to John Griffin, the lettering was very small. Someone who was observing a fatal shooting in the darkness of a night definitely would not have read the small lettering of the brand name “Columbia” on a dark coat or jacket.)
Lally then assembled a line-up that included John Griffin and five (5) fillers (TT 653-655). Lally then brought Antoine Scott to the station house and had him view the line-up (TT 655-665). Following the line-up viewing, he took Scott into another room and showed him the coat that he had taken from Griffin (TT 665-666).
During his arrest processing, Lally determined that Griffin was 20 years old, 5’9’’ tall and weighed 197 pounds (TT 667-668). When he was observing Griffin, he noticed that some of his front teeth had gold caps and asked if he could photograph his teeth. Griffin refused this request (TT 668-669, 892).
Lally never mentioned that Griffin had refused to let him photograph his teeth in any of his reports and could not recall when he first brought this incident to the attention of any prosecutor. He acknowledged that he could have obtained a court order which would require Griffin to submit to such photographing but failed to take such steps (TT 892-894).
Sergeant Gary Gagliardi was working as patrol officer in Queens on December 28, 1988. On that date, at about 2:00 p.m., he was directed to Jamaica Hospital to see a complainant. When he arrived at the hospital, he placed Octavious Washington under arrest and brought him to a room in which the 12-year old boy John Griffin was a patient. Gagliardi asked Griffin if Washington was the person who had shot him a few days earlier and Griffin responded, “That’s him” (TT 687-691). Griffin later told him that on the night of the incident, he and Washington were walking through a park when he asked Washington to return some jewelry to him. In response, Washington shot Griffin in the stomach and back (TT 693-697).
Detective Wenceslao Cortez responded to Mary Immaculate Hospital on the night of January 31, 1994 and learned that a man who had been shot was dead. While there, he met Antoine Scott and David Johnson and then transported them to the 103rd Precinct (TT 904-906).
Thomas Skinner was a security officer at Mary Immaculate Hospital on January 31, 1994. On that date, a nurse gave him various items of property that he listed as belonging to Octavious Washington. The property included a yellow metal chain and charm, a set of keys, a phone book, $81.25, an Amtrack ticket and a set of six (6) gold tooth caps (TT 907-908, 938-939).
Detective Margaret Roche, a member of the N.Y.P.D. crime scene unit, photographed the crime scene with a flash attachment on her camera and collected ballistic evidence during the early morning hours of February 1, 1994. She then turned the evidence over to P. O. Casey for vouchering (TT 939-954).
Detective Joseph Amato, an expert in the field of ballistics micropathy, examined the deformed bullets and pieces of lead that were recovered by the medical examiner and vouchered by P. O. Casey (TT 960-961). As a result, he concluded that one (1) of the bullets recovered at the scene, and two (2) of the bullets recovered from Octavious Washington’s body were fired from the same gun (TT 967). The fact that no shell casings were recovered at the scene led him to conclude that the gun used was a .38 caliber revolver (TT 973). The other bullets and pieces of lead were too deformed for him to determine whether they had been fired from the same or a different gun (TT 967, 993-994) (TT 967, 993-994, 1005).
Arlette Simms, Octavious Washington’s mother recalled that her son was incarcerated from December 28, 1988 until May, 1993. On February 1, 1994, she identified her son’s body at the morgue and subsequently retrieved his personal belongings at Mary Immaculate Hospital (TT 1016-1020).
Dr. Pierre Charles, an associate medical examiner, was declared an expert in the field of forensic pathology (TT 732, 736-737). On February 1, 1994, he conducted an autopsy on the body of Octavious Washington at the Queens County mortuary (TT 738-739). In his findings, he noted that the deceased had sustained eight (8) gunshot wounds:
two (2) to the head,
one (1) to the face,
one (1) above the right elbow,
one (1) to the right wrist,
one (1) to the left side of the abdomen,
one (1) to the right groin and
one (1) to the right side of the abdomen.
He recovered deformed bullets from the head, abdomen and groin (TT 741-750, 758). His conclusion was that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds which penetrated and perforated the skull, brain and mesentric vessels (TT 751-752).
Charles believed that it was possible that the gunshot wounds to Washington’s right wrist and arm could have been reentry wounds (TT 758-762, 816-817). However, he could not state with certainty that any of the eight (8) gunshot wounds that he observed were reentry wounds, even after examining the clothing Washington was wearing at the time he was shot (TT 776-779, 788-796).
Charles indicated that when a shot was fired at a person from between two (2) and eighteen (18) inches, fragments of metal and burn powder, which were referred to as “tattooing”, would appear on the skin. In his examination of Washington, he found tattooing only in the area of the gunshot wound to the right wrist (TT 742-743, 799-804, 808-809).
John Griffin’s only subpoenaed witness for his defense was his then girlfriend Vanessa Johnson (not related to the witness David Johnson.)
Vanessa Johnson had known Griffin since September, 1993 and had developed a romantic relationship with him (TT 1032-1033, 1038-1039). On January 31, 1994, Griffin telephoned her at about 3:30 p.m. and told her that he would come to see her after he finished work (TT 1034). Sometime after 8:00 p.m., Griffin telephoned her again and advised that he would be there a little later. At about 9:00 p.m. or 9:15 p.m., he arrived at her home at 218-16 137th Avenue and remained with her throughout the night (TT 1035-1037).
In March, 1994, Griffin telephoned her from jail and informed her that he had been arrested for murder (TT 1044-1045). About two (2) months later, she came to court and learned the date of the crime for which Griffin was accused (TT 1046-1047). When she realized that Griffin had been with her on the night in question, she decided to speak with his lawyer (TT 1050).
In order to nullify Vanessa Johnson’s testimony and Griffin’s alibi, the prosecutor called Detective Brendan Lally on the stand again.
Detective Brendan Lally asked Griffin if he wanted to telephone anybody on the night of his arrest. In response, Griffin requested that the detective call two (2) people, his mother and a woman named Shanique. Though Lally noted in a report that Shanique was Griffin’s girlfriend, he could not recall if Griffin had characterized her as such. He insisted that “If he told me that word, I wrote it down” (TT 110-117).
INCONSISTENCIES IN THE PEOPLE’S CASE
The evidence presented was legally insufficient to establish John Griffin’s guilt of the crime of second degree murder and in any event, the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.
Antoine Scott claimed that he observed the shooting while he sat on the hood of his car from 35 feet away at about 11:00 p.m. A review of the record reveals that Scott’s account was implausible and was sharply contradicted by the medical and ballistics evidence. Thus, the evidence presented by the prosecution simply did not support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979)
Although the prosecution attempted to discredit Griffin’s girlfriend Vanessa Johnson by suggesting that Griffin had telephoned another woman at the time of his arrest, this evidence had little bearing on her insistence that she had been dating Griffin during the months prior to the incident and that Griffin had not left her home at any time on the night of January 31, 1994.
No Positive Eyewitness Identification
At the Mary Emaculate Hospital, both witnesses Antoine Scott and his cousin David Johnson described to police what they had seen at the crime scene. They were transported to the 103rd Precinct and viewed “mug shots” but were unable to make a positive identification, because they could not provide the police with an accurate description of the murderer’s face (TT 516-521).
One (1) month and eight (8) days after the shooting, Griffin is arrested, put into a line-up, and even identified. The line-up was unduly suggestive, violated Griffin’s constitutional rights and should have been suppressed, because none of the five (5) fillers used matched the description provided to the police of the assailant:
Black male, medium brown skinned,
19 or 20 years old,
5’8’’ or 5’9’’ medium built,
wearing a black “Columbia” rain coat with a blue hood,
green and brown plaid button shirt,
greenish brown pants,
black leather boots,
a mini flat top haircut, skinned on the sides
(Compare Antoine Scott’s written statement to TT 668-669, 892! Scott never saw any gold teeth and a cap, and the People did not introduce a shirt, pants and boots as evidence at trial.).
John Griffin was the only participant in the line-up fitting the physical description.
More than one gun was involved
The absence of tattooing on Washington’s head, torso and clothing completely undermined Scott’s assertion that the perpetrator had fired shots at Washington from only a few inches away. According to Scott, all of the shots were fired at close range as the two (2) men struggled with each other. Based upon this account, there would have to have been evidence of tattooing on the areas of Washington’s body where the gunshot wounds were observed since Dr. Charles asserted that such evidence would be visible when a bullet was fired from less than eighteen (18) inches away from the subject. Indeed, Detective Amato, who was qualified as a ballistics expert, believed that tattooing would be left when a bullet was fired from a distance of as much as two (2) feet.
Based upon the absence of shell casings at the scene, Amato was confident that Washington had been shot with a .38 caliber revolver. His examination of the bullets found at the scene and in the body of Octavious Washington revealed that all of the bullets that were not completely deformed bore markings which established that the barrel of the gun from which they were fired left grooves on the bullets that twisted to the left. This characteristic was consistent with the Colt revolver, a gun that fired only six shots. Thus, it would have been impossible for the gunman to have shot Washington eight (8) or nine (9) times with this type of firearm unless he had reloaded, an event not described by Scott.
Conclusion: Detective Amato’s analysis of the ballistics evidence, coupled with Dr. Charles’ autopsy findings, led to the inescapable conclusion that Washington had been shot by at least two (2) guns (or gunmen), a circumstance that totally refuted Scott’s version of events.
Misconduct: Withheld female eye-witness evidence
On February 1, 1994, Detective Lally interviewed a female witness who lived across the street directly in front of the crime scene. She stated that she heard four (4) shots outside in front of Sutphin Boulevard and when she looked out the window, she saw the victim fall to the ground and make a loud groan. The victim was lying on the ground face up. She stated that she did not see who fired the shots. She only saw the victim after the shots were fired.
Why was the existence of this witness withheld? Why was her name, address and phone number not turned over to the court and jury? Counsel only found out about this witness sometime during pretrial or trial. The question is why did not press this issue further when he was given the DD5 complaint? Counsel cannot say it was too late at that stage of the trial. This information would have cast more doubt on the testimony of the key witness Antoine Scott.
This unknown witness saw the murder at approximately 15 feet away from her window, yet she did not see anyone standing over the victim and fire three (3) more shots in Washington’s head as he fell like Antoine Scott testified under oath on the witness stand.
As the fourth (4th) shot went off, she would have seen the perpetrator since Antoine Scott said as Washington fell he was shot three (3) more times at close range inches from his head. They both saw him falling, but she did not see anyone standing inches away from the victim.
Nor did she see the group of approximately ten (10) teenagers as Scott testified (TT 368-372, 380, 432, 438-439, 442-470). She did not even claim to have seen the red car Scott drove. She especially did not see him sitting casually on the hood of his car.
Antoine Scott’s car was parked 35 feet away from the crime scene around the corner. (See the crime scene drawing!) Scott was sitting inside his car looking toward the opposite direction. The engine was running all the time as if it had been a run-away vehicle. In that position, it was impossible for Antoine Scott to observe what he says he witnessed in front of the restaurant and grocery store.
John Griffin’s alleged motive for the shooting appears to have been a desperate attempt to bolster the weak and inconsistent story related by the eyewitnesses, because it was certainly not an exclusive one. Considering Washington’s violent lifestyle, there were many people who would have had reason to cause him harm.
There was no evidence that Griffin had ever threatened Washington or expressed any dissatisfaction with the prison sentence which Washington had received for shooting Griffin in 1988. Plus, Washington’s unexpected appearance at the scene that night made it highly unlikely that the death resulted from an ambush since Griffin could not have known in advance that Washington would be present at that time.
Trial court ruling deprives Griffin of his right to present a defense
Responding to the prosecutor’s declaration that the murder of Washington was a “payback”, defense attorney Steven Zissou began his opening statement by informing that the shooting of Griffin was not the only act of violence that Washington had ever committed and stated that, “Octavious Washington, wherever he went, whatever he did, violence followed him” (TT 294).
Before counsel could continue, the Assistant District Attorney Anselmo A. Alegría objected and requested a sidebar conference. During an extended colloquy that followed, the prosecutor sought to preclude defense counsel from offering evidence of other criminal acts committed by Washington in an attempt to show that other people had a motive to harm him.
After hearing and arguments of counsel and reviewing the case law submitted, the Judge Steven W. Fisher ruled that it would only allow evidence concerning an incident in early December 1988 in which Washington shot at two (2) police officers while wearing a bullet proof vest (TT 350-352).
One of the ironic reasons why the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment
“we find no merit to the defendant’s claim that reversible error took place when the court precluded him from introducing evidence suggesting that someone other than he had motive to harm the victim. Although due process requires that a defendant in a criminal case be permitted to call witnesses in his own behalf and to introduce evidence that a person other than he committed the crimes charged (see, Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 US 284), it is well settled that “such evidence must do more than raise a mere suspicion that another person committed the crime; there must be a clear link between the third party and the crime in question” (People v. Sparman, 202 AD2d 452, 453; see, People v. Brown, 187 AD2d 662, 663; People v. Zanfordino, 157 AD2d 682). The evidence here was properly precluded (see, People v. Aulet, 111 AD2d 822, 825).”
The question is, if the “clear link” between the crime and the defendant exists in the case People v. Griffin. Some might say they do not see any link between John Griffin and the murder of Octavious Washington.
Mystery: The Legal Aid Society represented a co-defendant
In two (2) letters to Martin H. Brownstein, Clerk of the Appellate Division Second Department, dated April 3, 1997 and May 2, 1997, the Legal Aid Society requested to be relieved as John Griffin’s counsel on appeal because of a conflict of interest: They represented a prosecution witness in the trial court.
The Appellate Division Supreme Court Second Department granted their motion to be relieved as Griffin’s counsel on June 10, 1997 and assigned Randall D. Unger as new counsel.
Related: Griffin made a motion of error coram nobis and the prosecutor argued: “Defendant and ‘his co-defendant’ were not denied of an unduly suggestive line-up.” Griffin responded that he had no idea that he had a co-defendant. Shortly thereafter on July 8, 1999, the People replied and claimed that it was an error, i.e. that there was no co-defendant.
Did the People secretly prosecute anyone else other than John Griffin for the murder of Octavious Washington? If David Johnson, Antoine Scott, or any other unknown “co-defendant” was given a secret deal, it would constitute a new trial under Brady/ Rosario material.
District Attorney Richard A. Brown and his assistant Anselmo A. Alegría were seeking a conviction and to close the case by all means. There was absolutely no physical evidence found linking Griffin to the crime charged. The record is devoid of any evidence corroborating Antoine Scott’s identification of John Wesley Griffin Jr. as the perpetrator. As a judge in an unrelated case once put it so well, the review of this case leaves the disturbing feeling that there is a grave risk that an innocent man has been convicted and that the true killer(s) is/are at large.
How you can help
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John W. Griffin, Jr. needs a private investigator, a post-conviction attorney, and supporters.
It would be helpful, if the unknown female witness was located and willing to testify, who saw the crime scene from her window directly after the shooting.
Also, who did live or was in the vicinity of 109-18 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, New York, USA on January 31, 1994, and saw or heard anything regarding the homicide of Octavious “Ox” Washington around 11:00 p.m.?
Detective Brendan Lally interviewed several people on nine (9) different occasions but did not make or keep any notes and data. Who does remember anything now and can help? If you want to give an official statement, submit a notarized affidavit to John Griffin and a copy to the Innocent in Prison Project International, please!
(Parole) Case Summary, 3-14-1994 (pdf, 1 page))
State of New York, Executive Department, Division of Parole
John Griffin went to report to parole on March 8th, 1994. He reported and was arrested although there was no gun or physical evidence to link him to the murder of Octavious Washington.
Crime Scene Drawing
by John Griffin
Antoine Scott’s written statement (2 pages)
February 1, 1994
Police Reports (6 pages)
The Legal Aid Society and John Griffin’s alleged co-defendant (9 pages)
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (59 pages)
in the Supreme Court of the United States
October 27, 2003
A: Decision and Order of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division-Second Department (February 17, 1998)
B: The New York State Court of Appeal’s Certificate Denying Leave and Hearing (April 17, 1998)
C: Decision and Order of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division-Second Department-Writ of Error Coram Nobis (July 19, 1999)
D: Decision and Order of the United States District Court-Eastern District of New York Pursuant to Petitioner’s Writ of Habeas Corpus (March 2000)
E: Decision and Order of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals Second Circuit (June 7 and 13, 2000)
F: Decision and Order of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals Second Circuit for a Motion for Reconsideration (August 28, 2003)
Supreme Court Queens County – State of New York
Motion for Transcript denied for the second time (2 pages)
December 9, 2005
Supreme Court – State of New York (pdf)
Motion For Transcript pro se opposed on December 9, 2005
John Griffin’s Analytical Synopsis of this Case (pdf, 41 pages)