Jury hung in 2012 rape case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Defense attorney urged jurors to look past accused man’s unusual tattoos

The two-day trial of a Rose Hill man charged with raping a 15-year-old girl ended Tuesday with a hung jury.

Russell Griggs, 56, was charged with second-degree rape and enticing a child for immoral purposes last June. Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, the jury was sent out to determine if Griggs did, in fact, rape the teen inside her home on Holley Road more than a year ago; however, the group could not come to an agreement.

The state, represented by Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter, presented witness testimony that stated Griggs confessed to an acquaintance that he had had sex with the teen.

“Man, I’ve messed up,” Jeter said, reading a statement made by Griggs and recounted from testimony. “He knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew he raped her and enticed her into that bedroom and had sex with her.”

During the trial, the victim testified to Griggs’ identifying tattoos that could only be seen by someone during an intimate physical encounter; however, the defense maintained that since the victim’s testimony of the location tattoos in Griggs’ pelvic area was slightly off and that one tattoo was located on Griggs’ forearm not leg, it was proof that the allegations against him were false.

The victim’s mother alleged that when she arrived at the home she walked in on Griggs having sex with her daughter in the home’s back bedroom. She said Griggs fled the scene. Griggs was located hours later at home six miles away and wa apprehended after he fled.

In closing arguments, Griggs’ attorney, David Baker, maintained that the allegations were an “elaborate ruse concocted” by the victim’s mother when she learned that Griggs’, her then-boyfriend, was going to disclose their affair to her husband before ending their relationship and moving to another state.

Baker stated that there was no physical evidence to tie Griggs to the scene and urged the six-man, six-woman jury to look past Griggs’ heavily tattooed appearance.

“People judge people by the way they look,” Baker said. “If Mr. Griggs came in to my office asking for a job, I’d say ‘no.’ But if you watch ‘Duck Dynasty,’ you know those guys look like someone from ZZ Top, but once you get to know them, they’re not as scary as they look.

“I want you to set aside your prejudice and put someone else’s face in his place,” he said. “Then, look at the facts. What it boils down to is Momma testifying that he was getting ready to tell her husband they were having sex and that her world was ‘about to blow up.’ ”

Baker stated that there was no physical evidence at the home to tie Griggs to the alleged rape and that no medical personnel testified that the victim had sex hours before being seen at the emergency room.

“There are so many inconsistencies with the story and there is no evidence to hang your hat on,” he said. “You must ask yourself, ‘Am I willing to convict a man of raping a teen based on what we’ve been presented?’ She didn’t see those tattoos because he didn’t rape her.”

On rebuttal, Jeter said the case boiled down to one thing – Griggs’ confession.

“He confessed that he had sex with (the girl); he ran; he hid; it was hours before he was found,” she said. “When (the alleged rape) was over, she went straight to the shower until she came out and a man had a gun pointed at her. Think about what a traumatic event that was to be raped and everything that happened after. She remembered those tattoos the best she could.”

Griggs will remain in the Covington County Jail without bond until a new trial is set.