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Arkadelphia Siftings Herald - Arkadelphia, AR
  • Judge strikes drunk remarks

  • Griffin to go to trial this week.
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  • Just two days before trial, Clark County Circuit Judge ordered statements alleged homicide suspect John Chad Griffin made as he was booked into jail on the night of David Stewart's murder.
    A jury trial for Griffin, 43, was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. On Monday, McCallum entered an order at the defense counsel's request to suppress some of the comments Griffin made to police on the night 36-year-old Stewart was shot in the head at 232 N. 13th St.
    Griffin was arrested on Jan. 16, 2013, in the minutes after officers with the Arkadelphia Police Department arrived at the scene and was immediately transported to the Clark County Detention Center. He was found in a bedroom inside the residence, where a 20-gauge shotgun and a box of slugs was also located.
    Griffin's attorney, public defender Janice Williams, filed a motion to suppress statements Griffin made to law enforcement based on his level of intoxication. Based on a video included in a recent hearing, McCallum ruled that Griffin didn't appear to be intoxicated to the point he didn't know what he was doing or saying.
    Some of his statements, however, are being struck.
    According to court documents, then-investigators Roy Bethell and Pete Dixon, both APD sergeants, arrived at the jail as the intoxicated Griffin was being booked in to determine whether they should interview him then or wait until he was sober.
    The conversation between Griffin and the investigators was recorded on video, which was viewed during a recent pre-trial hearing. A transcription of that conversation included in the order indicates Griffin admitted to pointing a shotgun at Stewart's head and that he "tried to kill him."
    Bethell and Dixon "clearly communicated" their decision to postpone a formal interview until the following day, although Griffin seemed adamant about "spilling [his] guts."
    The comments made from the time investigators walked into the booking room until the time they left will not be included as evidence in the trial.
    However, comments Griffin made to then-sheriff's deputy Aaron Abbott, who transported him to the jail, may be introduced as evidence. As the judge noted in the order, Griffin's comments to Abbott were "spontaneous" and unprovoked. Further, statements Griffin made to Sgt. Robbie Plyler, who booked him into the jail after Dixon and Bethell left, may also be introduced as evidence.
    The trial is expected to last three days, with as many as a dozen witnesses being called to testify. Jury selection started Wednesday morning.

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