CLEARWATER — “Is mommy up?”
That’s how Jennifer Mee, known as the ‘Hiccup Girl,’ began her telephone call after she was booked into the Pinellas County Jail three years ago.
A man at her mother’s home answered, she told him she had been charged with murder, and he asked her whom she had killed.
“I didn’t do nothing,” Mee, then 19, said. “I was just at the wrong time at the wrong place.”
Then her mother took the receiver and asked why was she facing such a serious charge if she hadn’t killed anyone.
“Because I set everything up,” Mee said, growing increasingly upset. ”It all went wrong. It all went downhill after everything happened.”
That two-minute and 17-second conversation, considered one of the most damaging pieces of evidence against Mee, was played in court Thursday, during the second day of her first-degree murder trial. Mee’s defense attorney, John Trevena, tried to persuade Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley to stop prosecutors from playing a recording of it, but Ley refused, saying its value as evidence outweighed whatever harm it would do to Mee’s defense.
After Mee met 22-year-old Shannon Griffin on a social networking site, she and two of her roommates, Laron Raiford and Lamont Newton, lured Griffin to a dark alley in St. Petersburg on Oct. 23, 2010, authorities say. They were supposed to sell him $60 worth of marijuana, but they had no marijuana and planned to rob Griffin all along. After Griffin resisted, he was shot.
If convicted as charged, Mee faces life in prison. Last month, Raiford was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Newton, who was Mee’s boyfriend at the time, is awaiting trial.
The jail recording goes to the heart of prosecutors’ case against Mee. If it’s proven she played a role in a robbery that resulted in Griffin’s death, even if she didn’t pull the trigger herself, she would be as guilty as the one who did, under the law.
“I told them to come meet me” at a park near the alley, Mee told her mother. “Laron pulled a gun out on him ... and the guy pulled the barrel.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen like that.”
By the end of the call, which, like most inmates’ calls at the jail, was recorded, Mee was crying.
“I’ll call when I can. I got to go,” Mee said. “Try to make visitation, please.”
At the end of the call, Mee and her mother said they loved each other.
Two other tapes with Mee’s voice on them were played in court Thursday. One was made immediately after Mee was identified as a witness in Griffin’s death. A second was made later, after St. Petersburg detectives say they figured out Mee was the one who planned the robbery.
In her first interview, with then-Detective Gary Gibson, Mee gave conflicting accounts of what had happened.
At one point, she claimed Raiford’s girlfriend, Jennifer Charron, was supposed to meet Griffin; but when Raiford saw them, he snapped and shot Griffin, Mee said. At another point, she said she thought Griffin was just going to be robbed.
Before the second interview, with Detective David Wawrzynski, Mee waived her Miranda rights and agreed to talk.
In that interview, Mee said she had met Griffin on MocoSpace.com four days before the slaying, that he had expressed a desire to buy some marijuana and that she had arranged for a buy.
She met Griffin, who arrived on a scooter, and directed him to a dark area where Raiford and Newton were waiting for him, Mee said during the interview. There was no intent to sell him marijuana, she said.
“Just a robbery,” Mee said during the interview, sobbing throughout. Newton choked Griffin, and Raiford shot him, she said.
Griffin was later found with four bullet wounds in his chest, his pockets turned inside out.
Three years before Griffin’s death, Mee became known to millions as “Hiccup Girl” for her inability to stop hiccupping for five weeks when she was a 15-year-old high school student in St. Petersburg. In court Thursday, she hiccuped several times at one point, was given a cup of water and stopped.
The trial will continue today.