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'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee seeks plea deal in murder case

LARGO —- Attorneys for "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee and two others are talking to prosecutors, apparently hoping to work out a plea agreement in their murder cases.

The discussions were mentioned in court on Wednesday, during a pretrial hearing for Mee and fellow defendants Lamont Newton, 23, and Laron Raiford, 21.

Mee, 20, of St. Petersburg, gained nationwide notoriety as a teenager because of a case of hiccups that wouldn't quit. A video of her hiccuping became a 2007 Internet sensation.

But the story was grimmer when her name surfaced again in October 2010. St. Petersburg police said Mee, Newton and Raiford plotted to meet Shannon Griffin, 22, to rob him. Instead he was shot and killed.

All three of the accused gave statements to police, blaming each other. In her recorded statement, Mee said, "I thought they were just going to rob the man."

In court on Wednesday, Newton's attorney Anne Borghetti said "we have tried to work this case out and we're still trying to work this case out."

Assistant State Attorney Jan Olney said prosecutors had had discussions with attorneys for all three of the accused.

Mee's attorney, John Trevena, said after the hearing that he was in "active negotiations" with prosecutors and was optimistic a plea arrangement could be worked out. "It's undisputed that she wasn't even present when the gun was fired," Trevena said of his client.

Raiford's attorney, Edward Liebling, declined to comment about any possible negotiations.

The defense attorneys said on Wednesday that if this does go to trial, they would like the defendants to be tried separately, instead of together. A Feb. 7 trial date has been set, but it's not clear which of the three, if any, would go on trial then.

The sentence for a first-degree murder conviction would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. Olney said the state is not seeking the death penalty.

All three defendants have been held without bail since their arrests. Mee last year sought to have her bail set at $50,000, but a judge denied her request.

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

"I literally threw him in my car and brought him over here for a new life, man," his uncle Doug Bolden said at last year's bail hearing, "and now look at this."

Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8232.

'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee seeks plea deal in murder case 12/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 9:34pm]
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