Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The strange celebrity of Hiccup Girl

Strange, what makes for celebrity.

Think Debra Lafave, the Tampa teacher who was news around the world for her blue eyes, blond hair and predatory bent, whose too-pretty-for-prison sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old boy banned her from telling her tale to the tabloids for cash.

And thank you for small favors.

But the truth is, we consume these stories like leftover Halloween candy until we feel a little sick, until the TMZ types move on to someone more outrageous, more of-the-moment. But we're always willing to double back, should an ex-celebrity get interesting all over again.

And so comes this unexpected twist: The young woman formerly known as Hiccup Girl is charged with murder.

Her story was so odd and endearing it landed her on the Today show: At 15, Jennifer Mee could not stop hiccuping. But back in the real world, she grew up, dropped out, hooked up with the wrong people, was referred to on her MySpace page as a "hustla." Now 19, she is accused in a murder that is both tragic and, when it comes to killings that regularly play out in your local courthouse, tragically familiar.

The allegations are a law school lesson in felony murder. Police say Mee lured a young man named Shannon Griffin to an empty house so her boyfriend and another man could rob him. There were gunshots. Griffin was killed. If you are committing a felony and someone dies, that's felony murder.

"And if she did not have the hiccup history," says her attorney, John Trevena, "this story would be the back of the B section."

Instead, the arrest of Hiccup Girl made Time and the Washington Post. This morning, Trevena appears on Today. A normally routine bail hearing was crowded, and afterward, a TV reporter wanted to know if Mee had been faking those courtroom hiccups. (For the record, Trevena says her condition has jail officials treating her with Thorazine and other medication.)

It is both fascinating and horrifying to hear him describe the dance of those who want to own the story of Hiccup Girl Gone Bad. No stranger to headline-making cases, he says he has fielded calls from media representatives he won't name offering to post her bail.

Then, "basically, they would own her," he says. She could only talk to reporters or go on shows they named, a defendant and an investment.

"I said 'What if they set a million-dollar bail?' " Trevena says. The response: "'We'll entertain it.' " He says he and his client's family declined. Bail has since been denied.

Will Mee's celebrity affect her case?

Trevena points out the least culpable person often gets a plea deal for a lesser charge in exchange for cooperating and testifying. He says he's offered. No takers.

Then again, authorities say all three confessed, so maybe they don't need Mee.

Trevena also wonders if race — she is white, the two men are black — has authorities extra careful not to give her a break. This would be ironic, considering an American justice system known for tilting the opposite way.

So can the Hiccup Girl case be like any other, even with the strange celebrity that follows her still?

The answer is: in a courtroom, it should be and it has to be, both for Mee and for the man who died that night. Even if the world is watching.

The strange celebrity of Hiccup Girl 11/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010 7:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. GOP senators blink on a big chance to repeal 'Obamacare'


    WASHINGTON — After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated Wednesday they don't have the stomach to repeal "Obamacare" when it really counts, as the Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama's law without replacing it.

    U.S. Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) talks with reporters as he walks to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, DC. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
  2. Rick Baker's debate answer revives painful St. Pete controversy


    ST. PETERSBURG — Former Mayor Bill Foster fired one of his top administrators, Goliath Davis III, six years ago for disobeying an order to attend the funeral of a slain police officer.

    St. Petersburg police officers stand by two caskets before the beginning of the 2011 funeral services for Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD   |  Times]
  3. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday


    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general


    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
  5. Iowa group sues United over death of giant rabbit, Simon


    DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

    In this May 8, 2017 file photo, attorney Guy Cook speaks a news conference while looking at a photo of Simon, a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago, in Des Moines, Iowa. A group of Iowa businessmen have filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over the death of Simon. The businessmen filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 26, 2017, more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]