Jury selected for Griffith trial

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Much of the first day in the trial of a 36-year-old Steamboat Springs man charged with second-degree attempted murder and kidnapping was spent selecting a jury.

The four-day trial for Todd Griffith began Monday. Griffith has been charged with five felony counts and several misdemeanors on suspicion of kidnapping and beating a former girlfriend in December.

It took more than nine hours for Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James and Griffith's Public Defender Ron Smith to select a jury of 12 from the close to 70 people summoned to the trial.

Potential jurors had conflicts with knowing personally or professionally the 11 possible witnesses who could be called by the prosecution and the 25 witnesses who could be called by the defense.

Several potential jurors also stated they would be unfairly influenced by knowing the victim or members of the victim's family who live in the area. Other people said they would have trouble being unbiased in a court case involving domestic violence.

Smith asked whether the jury members would have any difficulty in a case where the main characters were using crack cocaine and drinking vodka throughout the incidents. Several potential jury members said they could have trouble not convicting someone even if the drugs or alcohol altered the person's mental state and the crime was committed unintentionally or unknowingly.

Griffith's felony charges include first-degree burglary, attempted burglary, attempted second-degree murder, kidnapping, criminal mischief and second-degree assault.

The kidnapping charge is a Class 1 felony, which has a minimum punishment of a life sentence and a maximum punishment of a death sentence.

During the preliminary hearing, Steamboat Springs police Detective Ross Kelly and Officer Damien Baynes said that on Dec. 16, 2003, Griffith's 43-year-old girlfriend thought three times that Griffith was going to kill her.

The two allegedly struggled in Griffith's trailer in Dream Island Mobile Home Community. The victim then went to her brother's residence on Fish Creek Falls Road, and Griffith allegedly broke into the residence and beat her up. Finally, Griffith allegedly dragged her more than a mile to his trailer along the Yampa River Core Trail.

When the police found the victim outside Griffith's trailer, she was bruised, shoeless, covered i n snow and frostbitten, police reports state.

After the jury was selected Monday, two witnesses were called to the stand for the prosecution, Crystal Walker told the jury that Griffith had stopped by her home in Westland Trailer Park late in the afternoon Dec. 16 and asked to see her husband. Griffith seemed agitated and anxious, she said. He told her he was looking for some people, and he was going to mess them up.

Walker also testified that she had told Griffith not to do anything that would get him into trouble and he had responded "something to the effect of 'I will,'" Walker said.

After talking to her for about five minutes, Griffith walked up the hill toward Third Street and Lincoln Avenue, Walker said.

The second witness, Craig Jones, lived next to where the alleged struggle occurred on Fish Creek Falls Road. Jones said when he came home for lunch Dec. 16, he saw a woman, who had a bruise on her face, sitting in the fetal position outside the door of the neighboring condo. Jones testified that he heard the woman crying and a man consoling her.

Because of the length of time involved in selecting the jury, the two attorneys agreed to wait until today to give their opening statements. The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. today.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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