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State v. Griffin

Supreme Court of Minnesota

July 31, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
Derrick Trevor Griffin, Appellant.

Office of Appellate Courts Hennepin County

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

Bruce Rivers, Rivers & Associates P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota for appellant.


1. The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that a statement made by appellant's wife was admissible under Minn. R. Evid. 807.

2. Defendant did not meet his burden of establishing a subjective expectation of privacy in cell phone records that police obtained from a cell phone provider without a warrant.



GILDEA, Chief Justice.

A jury found appellant Derrick Griffin guilty of first-degree murder by drive-by shooting, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.185(a)(3), 609.11 (2012), and first-degree premeditated murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.185(a)(1), 609.11, 609.106, subd. 2(1) (2012), in connection with the death of Kristopher Miller. In this direct appeal, Griffin argues that the jury's verdict must be reversed because of the erroneous admission of out-of-court statements made by his wife, Kim Griffin, [1] and cell phone records obtained without a warrant. Because we conclude that the district court did not err in admitting the statement or the cell phone records, we affirm.[2]

On the night of May 10, 2011, Kristopher Miller was shot to death on the front porch of his home in Minneapolis. At the time of his death, Miller was in a romantic relationship with Griffin's wife, Kim. Prior to the murder, Griffin had discovered sexually explicit text messages on Kim's cell phone and thought Kim was seeing someone who worked at the Elks Club, which is located on Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis. On the evening of May 10, 2011, Kim was at the Elks Club with a group that included Miller; Miller's sister, L.M.; and L.M.'s boyfriend, L.B. When the group left the Elks Club at 11:15 p.m., they saw a white four-door Cadillac sedan parked across the street from the front door of the club. After seeing the vehicle, Kim said to the group "[l]ook at my husband over there, stalking me again." L.M. and L.B. also noticed the white four-door Cadillac but were unable to see if the vehicle was occupied and could not later identify the Cadillac specifically as Griffin's vehicle. After Kim's comment, Miller walked Kim to her car, gave her a hug, got into his truck, and drove away toward his home. L.M. and L.B. also left and none of the witnesses saw the Cadillac move.

Miller's home was "a couple blocks away" from the Elks Club. Three of Miller's neighbors heard gunshots at approximately 11:30 p.m., and two of the neighbors called 911. The same two neighbors saw a light colored large sedan similar to a Cadillac backing down Irving Avenue, the street on which Miller lived. Shortly thereafter, Miller was found dead on the front porch of his duplex. Miller died from multiple gunshot wounds to the back.

Upon arriving at the scene, police and officials from the Minneapolis crime lab searched the area for evidence but did not recover any shell casings or bullets. The lack of shell casings indicated to police that a revolver was most likely the type of gun used in the shooting. Police also spoke with L.M., who told the police she was with L.B., Miller, and Kim at the Elks Club that evening, and that Kim had made a statement that she had a stalker. Police confirmed Kim's identity and also discovered that Griffin was the registered owner of a 1996 white four-door Cadillac Sedan DeVille.[3]

When police contacted Kim, she gave them the number for a cell phone that was associated with Griffin and indicated that Sprint was the cell phone provider for that phone. Kim also told police that Griffin was aware of her relationship with Miller and that she thought she had seen Griffin at the Elks Club that evening. Additionally, Kim told police that after she left the Elks Club, she made and received calls on her cell phone to and from Griffin at 11:30, 11:46, 11:49, and 11:55 p.m. on May 10, related to why she saw Griffin outside the Elks Club. Kim told police that she did not need to tell Griffin she was on her way home from the Elks Club "because he would have already known that."

Based on their investigation, police suspected that Griffin was the perpetrator. But police had not recovered the murder weapon, and they did not know if anyone other than Miller was a target. Police therefore focused on trying to ascertain Griffin's location, and faxed an "exigent circumstances request" to Sprint/Nextel at 5:36 a.m. on May 11, 2011. For the phone Griffin was reported to be using, police requested the subscriber information, call detail records with cell-site information for the past week, and information showing the current location of the phone and its location over the past 14 days. To describe ...

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