Testimony Begins in Griffin Case

Witness testimony has begun in the case of Michael Griffin.

5:00 p.m. update

Afternoon testimony in the Michael Griffin murder trial centers around Griffin’s girlfriend, her sexuality and her fuzzy memories of the events surrounding interaction with Indiana University English professor Don Belton.

Jessa Greiwe recalled being so drunk of Christmas of 2009 that she drifted in and out of consciousness for much of the evening.  She remembers waking up several times to see Don Belton engaged in a variety of sex acts with Griffin.  However, Greiwe also testified she drank so much she wasn’t always aware what was going on.

Prosecutor Darcie Winkle repeatedly asked Greiwe about statement she made on the record to law enforcement — statements Greiwe often said she could not recall.  During questioning about Greiwe’s sexuality, defense attorney David Collins objected to what he thought were assertions about Griffin’s sexuality, prompting an out-of-court meeting between both sides and judge Teresa Harper.  During that recess, Griffin mouthed the words “it’s okay” to Greiwe and began to cry.

Both Greiwe and Griffin’s sister Rita testified that Griffin told them he’d killed Don Belton.  Rita Griffin also said that while her brother and Greiwe appeared drunk on Christmas, Belton seemed sober, despite the fact Greiwe testified that Belton was angling to stay at her apartment that evening if he drank too much.

11:30 a.m. update

Witness testimony has begun in the case of Michael Griffin – the man who is accused of killing IU English professor Don Belton.

Prosecutor Darcie Winkle’s opening statement lasted less than two minutes but it included a cryptic statement from Michael Griffin to his girlfriend – “Sometimes death means death.”

Defense Attorney David Collins elected not to make an opening statement. The first state witness, IU English professor Debra Dean told of finding Don Belton dead after she went to get house sitting instructions from him as he prepared for a Hawaiian vacation.

The jury saw photos of Don Belton and a video of him lying dead in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor and heard a recording of Dean’s subsequent 911 call which ends with the professor twice telling the emergency dispatcher, “I lost Don.”

Bloomington police detective Robert Shrake told of finding a bloody knife at Griffin’s home. A knife which was entered into evidence along with a stipulation that the blood on the knife belonged to Belton.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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