Griffith appears in court | SteamboatToday.com

Griffith appears in court

Judge binds over attempted murder, kidnapping case

Christine Metz

A 43-year-old Steamboat Springs woman told police three times that she thought her boyfriend was going to kill her, Police Detective Ross Kelly testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Todd Griffith, 36, of Steamboat Springs, appeared in Routt County Court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing. Routt County Judge James Garrecht ruled that the prosecution had enough evidence to take Griffith to trial on charges of second-degree attempted murder, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and criminal mischief.

Garrecht bound all five charges to District Court, where Griffith is scheduled to have his first appearance May 7.

The incidents Kelly cited included a struggle at Griffith’s trailer in Dream Island, once when Griffith broke into her brother’s residence on Fish Creek Falls Road and finally when Griffith dragged her for more than a mile to his trailer Dec. 16.

“Her initial response was relief that she wasn’t going to get killed,” Kelly said of when police encountered Griffith and the alleged victim who was bruised, shoeless, covered in snow and frostbitten outside of Griffith’s trailer.

Griffith’s defense attorney argued that the woman was a heavy crack cocaine user who may have suffered her injuries in other incidents.

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In his ruling, Garrecht said the prosecution’s case for first-degree burglary and second-degree kidnapping were strong. He questioned whether the prosecution had enough evidence to prove the criminal mischief charge generated more than $1,000 in damages.

The weakest part of the prosecution’s case was the count for second-degree attempted murder, Garrecht said, but he noted it did have support from the victim and other witnesses’ statements.

Kelly said witnesses told police they encountered Griffith on his way to the woman’s brother’s home and that Griffith indicated he might kill or seriously hurt the woman.

Kelly said the woman told police she spent the night in Griffith’s trailer Dec. 15. On the morning of Dec. 16, the woman told police, Griffith told her she was not allowed out of bed or to move. The man than proceeded to hit her in the head and stomach, Kelly said.

About noon, the woman was able to leave to make a call from a pay phone, and her brother picked her up, Kelly said. The two went back to the Fish Creek Falls Road residence.

At about 5 p.m., Kelly said, the woman heard banging on the door, and then Griffith broke into the house.

The two then left the residence, Kelly said, with Griffith dragging her down a trail to Old Fish Creek Falls Road and then to the Yampa River Core Trail back to the mobile home. During the walk, the woman was hit several times in the head and shoulders, and she lost her shoes. Police later found shoes along the trail, Kelly said.

Kelly and Police Officer Damien Baynes were the only people to testify during Thursday’s preliminary hearing. “It was readily apparent that (the woman) had been beaten severely about the face and neck area,” Baynes testified.

During cross-examination, Griffith’s public defender, Ron Smith, questioned whether the alleged victim had told police that she did crack cocaine daily in the month before the incident. Smith asked if the woman had said she stole the drug when she left Griffith’s residence that morning and used it that afternoon with her brother.

Kelly said the woman had not told him about the drug use, but another witness had said the woman stole crack cocaine from Griffith that day.

Smith also questioned whether the injuries a dentist classified as serious bodily injuries, which allows Griffith to be charged with second-degree assault, were caused that day or were the result of a longtime dental disease or caused by an automobile accident a few days after the incident.

Smith said the report from Yampa Valley Medical Center indicated that some of the bruises on the victims face were from a previous incident.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com