Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Juror removed in murder trial for researching 'Hiccup Girl'

LARGO — An Internet search of the "Hiccup Girl" got a Pinellas County juror removed from a murder trial on Wednesday before openings in the case even began.

"I have never had a juror so obviously ignore court orders," Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley said Wednesday after the juror's admission.

"This is not a game, this is not a joke," she told juror Tateyana Calhoun before removing her at the request of defense attorney Edward Liebling.

After an alternate juror was put in her place, prosecutors began their case against Laron Cordale Raiford, 23. He is one of three people 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.

The other two accused are the "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee, 22, and Lamont Antonio Newton, 25, who will be tried later. All three are charged with first-degree murder. Mee had previously gained Internet notoriety because of media coverage of her case of intractable hiccups that persisted for months and months.

Assistant State Attorney Christopher LaBruzzo told jurors Wednesday that Raiford assisted in a plot to lure Griffin to the home to sell him marijuana. But instead, LaBruzzo said, Griffin was shot four times in the chest and left for dead.

"Mr. Griffin breathed his last breath of air in an abandoned alleyway," the prosecutor said.

A handgun was found at the scene, he said, with DNA that traced back to Raiford.

LaBruzzo noted that Florida law allows a person to be convicted of murder if he was participating in a felony crime when it occurred, even if he did not start out with a plan to kill.

When jurors were selected for Raiford's trial earlier this week, Judge Ley instructed them not to read news media coverage or other information about the case, common instructions because jurors are supposed to make decisions based purely on evidence presented in court.

In this case, the juror said she didn't remember much about the case so she googled "Hiccup Girl" on Tuesday night.

Apparently realizing herself that she had broken the rules, she mentioned her research to a courtroom deputy Wednesday morning. The deputy told the judge, who brought the juror in to question.

Ley hinted there may be consequences to come. She ordered a transcript of all the juror's statements and told Calhoun, "I expect we will be seeing you after this trial is completed."

Outside of the courthouse, Calhoun told a reporter: "I made a big mistake."

Juror removed in murder trial for researching 'Hiccup Girl' 08/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 6:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  2. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  3. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    In their third year with pitching coach Neil Allen, the Twins have been one of the surprises of the American League.
  5. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

    Crime

    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.