Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Co-defendant of 'Hiccup Girl' rejects plea deal in murder case

Laron Cordale Raiford is charged with “Hiccup Girl” Jennifer Mee.

Laron Cordale Raiford is charged with “Hiccup Girl” Jennifer Mee.

LARGO — Laron Cordale Raiford, who is charged along with "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee in the 2010 killing of a St. Petersburg man, has turned down an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a 40-year prison sentence.

But defense attorney Edward Liebling, who has pushed for a 30-year sentence, said he wanted to continue negotiations.

The 40-year offer was discussed Wednesday and in a previous hearing in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

Raiford, Mee and a third defendant are accused of plotting in October 2010 to lure 22-year-old Shannon Griffin to a house in the 500 block of Seventh Street N in St. Petersburg to rob him. Instead, Griffin was shot and killed.

In court Wednesday, Judge Nancy Moate Ley told Raiford it is his right to go to trial. But she also urged the 22-year-old to carefully consider the offer.

She pointed out that if he is convicted as charged of first-degree murder, the only legal sentence she could give him would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. But under the 40-year offer, he'd likely get out of prison when he's around 60.

Ley said she wanted Raiford to understand that by refusing that offer, "you're turning down a lot of time in prison, but so long as you stay healthy, a lot of years of freedom."

Ley also pointed out that Raiford could be convicted of first-degree murder even if he wasn't the one who shot Griffin. Under Florida's felony murder law, all the state has to do is prove he participated in the robbery and the robbery resulted in Griffin's death.

"They don't have to find you to be the shooter, you understand that?" Ley said.

Raiford, bald, with a goatee and glasses, told the judge he understood.

Ley pointed out, "Nobody's saying Miss Mee had the gun, right? But she's charged with first-degree murder."

Under either a 30-year or 40-year sentence, Raiford would serve a "minimum mandatory" 25 years — meaning no time off for good behavior during that portion of the sentence. For the remaining time, his sentence could be reduced by 15 percent if he were to behave. He also would receive credit for the time he has been in the Pinellas County Jail.

Raiford has another court hearing April 10.

Mee, 21, also is awaiting trial. She gained nationwide notoriety in high school, long before the killing, for having an uncontrollable case of hiccups. The third defendant, Lamont Antonio Newton, 25, also is awaiting trial.

Griffin, the victim, moved to the Tampa Bay area after Hurricane Katrina damaged the home where he lived with family in Mississippi.

Times staff writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at or (727) 893-8232. Follow him on Twitter at @ckruegertimes.

Co-defendant of 'Hiccup Girl' rejects plea deal in murder case 03/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Reporter says Republican candidate in Montana body-slammed him (w/video)


    HELENA, Mont. — Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election.

    Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March. [Associated Press]
  2. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  3. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs


    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  4. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment
  5. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.