Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee offers guilty plea in exchange for 15 years in prison

LARGO — "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee, who is charged with first degree murder, has offered to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, her attorney John Trevena said in court Friday.

Assistant State Attorney Christopher LaBruzzo said prosecutors would discuss the offer.

Mee became known as the "Hiccup Girl" in 2007 because of a case of hiccups that lasted months. A video of her hiccuping became an Internet sensation.

But in 2010, she was arrested along with two men and charged with murder. St. Petersburg police said the trio plotted to rob a 22-year-old man named Shannon Griffin. He was found shot to death at a vacant home just north of downtown.

Mee and the two others have each been charged with first degree murder. If convicted, they would face mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors have indicated some willingness to agree to a plea bargain, but perhaps not on terms the defendants would accept. They previously agreed to let Mee's co-defendant Laron Cordale Raiford plead guilty in exchange for a 40-year prison sentence, but he turned the offer down. He is 22.

In Mee's case, Trevena said he is eager to hear from prosecutors about the suggested 15-year prison sentence. He said he had made previous offers which prosecutors rejected. First, he sought to get Mee designated as a "youthful offender" with a six-year sentence. Prosecutors also turned down an offer for Mee to get a 10-year prison sentence.

Also on Friday, attorneys discussed testimony from a witness who at one point said one of the defendants, Lamont Antonio Newton, 25, was the one who actually shot Griffin.

But prosecutors don't necessarily need to prove that. Under Florida law, someone can be convicted of murder if he or she committed a serious felony crime — such as robbery — and someone was killed as a result. That's exactly what happened in this case, according to police.

Attorneys also discussed possible June trial dates for Mee in case discussions over a plea agreement fall through. The trial originally was scheduled for this month, but will be delayed because of an illness in the family of one of the prosecutors.

Mee's trial will be conducted separately from her two co-defendants, Newton and Raiford.

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Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18