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State v. Griffin

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 13, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
Gary Tyrone Griffin, Jr., Appellant.


Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-2394

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Annsara Lovejoy Elasky, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Maren F. Grier, Special Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

WORKE, Judge

Appellant challenges his conviction of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting attempted first-degree aggravated robbery, arguing that the district court erred by (1) refusing to suppress custodial statements he made to police in violation of his Miranda rights, and (2) imposing a 480-month executed sentence, an upward durational departure from the presumptive sentence. We affirm the murder conviction and sentence, but we reverse and remand with instructions that the district court vacate the robbery sentence because it arose from the same behavioral incident as the murder conviction.


On January 21, 2011, police found S.C.R. in his van in an alley, dead from gunshot wounds. Police found several discharged bullet casings leading to a duplex. Bystanders also directed police to the duplex, where people were seen entering immediately after the shooting.

Police detained the duplex occupants as potential witnesses to or suspects in the shooting. S.C.R.'s phone showed that the last call he made was to a cell phone belonging to E.W., an occupant of the duplex. The weapons used in the shooting were found hidden in the duplex, and forensic testing determined that the bullets found in the van were fired from those guns.

Through witness statements, police learned that S.C.R. died in an attempted robbery. Several witnesses identified seventeen-year-old Gary Tyrone Griffin, Jr., as one of the perpetrators. One witness, J.J., told police that appellant and Ladell Johnson rushed into the duplex after the shooting, carrying handguns, each accusing the other of shooting at Lordiss Stewart, their accomplice who was planted in the van to set up the robbery. E.W. told police that she was with Stewart at the duplex before the shooting, and that Stewart used her phone before leaving and told E.W. "that she had a date and was going to get some money." E.W. and other witnesses saw Stewart get into the van. E.W. overheard either Johnson or appellant state after the shooting that they "f---ed up."

Stewart admitted that when she told appellant that S.C.R. sold crack, appellant suggested that they rob him. Stewart also stated that she directed S.C.R. where to drive and sent a text message to one of the duplex occupants just before the robbery that said, "Where's [appellant]?" She said that appellant and Johnson approached the van from either side. When S.C.R. lowered the van's window, appellant pointed a gun at him, and S.C.R. began to drive away. Stewart saw appellant fire twice at them and heard more shots as they drove forward. Stewart later pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery.

Six days after the crime, appellant was told to report to his high school principal's office because police wanted to speak with him. Police handcuffed appellant and brought him to Minneapolis City Hall for questioning. During his interrogation, appellant claimed that he was picked up from the duplex just before the shooting; when police attempted to verify appellant's alibi, the person appellant had identified as the driver denied giving appellant a ride on the night of the shooting.

At the beginning of appellant's interrogation, a police officer began to give appellant an enhanced Miranda warning that explained the rights encompassed in the warning and asked appellant if he understood them. Appellant acknowledged that he knew what a Miranda warning was, but when the officer said that she was required to "inform [him] that [he has] the right to remain silent" and asked him what his understanding of this right was, appellant answered, "I don't say nothing while y'all talk until y'all tell me to talk. Right?" The officer again repeated the right and asked appellant to explain his understanding of it, and appellant responded, "Like when they say that to me that's mean I be quiet until they done talking, until they tell me I can talk, right?" The officer responded, "It, yeah it means that you can talk to us or you don't have to talk to us" and "It's up to you, yeah." After explaining each of the Miranda rights, ...

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