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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - "Griffin’s sentence for murdering IU professor reduced by 5 years in appeals court"

That is the headline to a story today ($$) in the Bloomington Herald-Times, reported by Laura Lane. It begins:

The Indiana Court of Appeals has cut five years off the prison sentence of a decorated Marine convicted of stabbing an Indiana University English professor to death in 2009.
Confusing to the ILB is that the COA opinion in Griffin v. State of Indiana was filed March 21, 2012, 6 months ago. More from the story:
Michael Griffin’s 50-year term was reduced to 45 years. The appeals court judges cited Griffin’s contention that Don Belton sexually assaulted him two days before the murder and also Griffin being awarded the Purple Heart after being injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq as the reasons.

“In light of the tragic circumstances surrounding the offense, and the character of the offender as he conducted himself prior to the instant aberration, we find a 45-year sentence to be appropriate,” the court ruing states.

With credit for time served awaiting trial and two days of credit for each day behind bars, 28-year-old Griffin will be eligible for release in about 20 years, sooner if he continues his education in prison. He will be younger than his victim, who was 53 when he was killed, when he gets out.

Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Miller, who presided over the case, stands behind the original sentence handed down May 17, 2011 by Monroe Circuit Judge Teresa Harper, who called the killing “heinous.” She factored in Griffin’s military service and its psychological effects as reasons to impose less than the maximum 65-year sentence.

Miller said the appeals court ruling appears to reflect a sympathetic attitude toward Griffin, who stabbed Belton 21 times, cut his throat and then wiped his bloody knife on the dead man’s pants before leaving.

“There was indeed, on the part of the court of appeals, some measure of sympathy toward the defendant given the facts of the case as presented by the defense,” Miller said Wednesday. “But we felt the original sentence was appropriate, given the violent nature of the assault and our belief that he had not been sexually assaulted as that concept is defined by law.”

The court ruling says the appeals court “cannot ignore the pervasive evidence that the homicide was in response to a sexual assault.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 20, 2012 10:29 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions