Sunday, June 24, 2018
Public safety

'Hiccup Girl' to mom from jail: 'I set everything up'

LARGO — After "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee was arrested in October 2010, she called her mother and tried to explain what had just happened.

"Why are you in jail?" Rachel Robidoux asked.

"Murder in the first degree," Mee said in a flat, emotionless tone.

"Who did you kill?"

"I ain't killed nobody," Mee said.

So her mother asked why she was being charged.

"Because I set everything up," Mee explained, her voice rising, as if she were about to cry. "It all went wrong, Mom. It just went downhill …"

"Who'd you try to kill, Jennifer?"

"Nobody. It wasn't even supposed to happen like that, Mom …"

That jail call was recorded and, on Thursday, replayed in court. Four words from Mee — "I set everything up" — form the crux of the state's murder case against her.

No one says she fired the .38-special that killed 22-year-old Shannon Griffin, but that doesn't get her off the hook. Under Florida law, someone who participates in a robbery that leads to a death can be convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That's why prosecutors Christopher LaBruzzo and Jan Olney presented the recording to jurors, and it's why a day earlier LaBruzzo began his opening statement by saying: "She set everything up."

Mee, now 22, gained national attention at 15 when she had a case of the hiccups that lasted for weeks. Her hiccups have generally stayed under control recently, but she did briefly start hiccupping in court on Thursday. The judge suggested someone give her a cup of water, and that did the trick.

She was arrested in 2010 and accused of using a social networking site to lure Griffin to a spot on Seventh Street so two male roommates of Mee's could rob him. Instead, he was shot and killed.

Defense attorney John Trevena tried to keep the jury from hearing the recorded jail call Thursday, but Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley denied his request.

Detectives and crime-scene experts testified Thursday, but some of the most compelling evidence came from Mee's own voice through three recordings.

In one interview, former St. Petersburg Detective Gary Gibson interviewed Mee before she was considered a suspect. She told him that one of her roommates shot Griffin because of a love triangle. But Mee then said the whole episode was supposed to be a robbery, which contradicted her first story.

Later, Mee admitted to Detective David Wawrzynski that she arranged the meeting with Griffin so he could be robbed.

Trevena cross-examined Wawrzynski about numerous other possible explanations, including whether there was a sexual aspect to the crime (Griffin was eventually found with his pants pulled down). Trevena asked the detective about the condom wrapper found at the scene — which contained DNA from one of Mee's roommates — and whether it seemed unusual that in a robbery in which no one was supposed to be killed, there were at least five bullets fired at Griffin, four of which hit him.

Wawrzynski said "there could have been several different scenarios" when first investigating, but that many different pieces of evidence — including Mee's statements — led to the criminal charge against her.

All witnesses who have testified in this week's trial so far are doing so on behalf of the prosecution. Her defense team will have a chance to present its case today.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. On Twitter: @ckruegertimes.

   
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