Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas prosecutors seek to bar jailhouse interviews with 'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee

LARGO — With Inside Edition and Dr. Phil poised for jailhouse interviews, prosecutors filed an emergency motion on Wednesday asking a judge to prevent "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee from making public statements before her upcoming murder trial.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley did not order any such restrictions on Wednesday, but she did schedule a hearing for Friday to discuss the motion. She also told Mee's defense attorney, John Trevena, that she hoped Mee would not give media interviews before then.

"I am expecting that nothing will occur in the meantime," Ley said, but noted, "I am not restricting the press."

In response, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office — which operates the county jail — suspended all interviews with Mee until after the 1:30 p.m. hearing Friday, a spokeswoman said.

Mee, 22, goes on trial Tuesday. She is one of three people accused in the 2010 killing of Shannon Griffin, 22, in St. Petersburg.

From the very beginning, the case has attracted widespread media attention because Mee had previously gained notoriety as a teenager when she had a case of hiccups that wouldn't stop.

The media interest continued this week as Mee and her attorney arranged for interviews in the jail with Today, Dr. Phil, Inside Edition, Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times. The Today show was up first, but that scheduled interview did not happen Wednesday morning because of the state's emergency motion. Other interviews had been scheduled for later in the week.

The motion prepared by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office said the barrage of interviews likely would prejudice the upcoming jury selection and trial and "could make it difficult to select an impartial jury."

The memo said potential jurors could be exposed to "irrelevant and inadmissible statements" designed to "elicit sympathy for the defendant."

In comments to reporters after the hearing, Trevena acknowledged that presenting a favorable impression of Mee is part of the reason he wanted to allow such interviews.

"That's the goal, absolutely," he said. "Otherwise, why would we do this?"

However, he also said he did not think the interviews would prevent the court from finding jurors who could be fair.

Trevena said Mee wants to do the interviews and that she has a First Amendment right to do them. The pretrial interviews might make the jury selection process slower, he acknowledged, but he called that the "price of a free society."

Jurors typically are asked whether they have read news coverage of highly publicized cases in an effort to make sure they haven't decided someone's guilt before the trial even begins.

One of the other people accused in the murder was convicted last month in a trial that received scant publicity. Laron Cordale Raiford, 23, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The third defendant, Lamont Antonio Newton, 25, will go on trial after Mee.

Pinellas prosecutors seek to bar jailhouse interviews with 'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee 09/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.