After two days of testimony and more than 12 hours of deliberation, a jury found Michael Griffin guilty of murdering IU professor Don Belton.
The 27-year-old ex-marine, who earned a Purple Heart and managed to finish a tour in Iraq without killing anyone, stabbed the 53-year-old assistant English professor to death on the morning of December 27, 2009.
Belton’s body was found a day later by a colleague. He was to have left for an Hawaiian vacation that day.
The defense, while agreeing that Griffin killed Belton, had been seeking the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, arguing that the stabbing occurred after a conversation concerning a sexual encounter between the two men turned violent.
Griffin, often crying while on the witness stand, alleged that Belton had sexually assaulted him after a drunken dinner party on Christmas night. While he has no memory of the actual alleged assault, he said he remembered becoming heavily intoxicated and that Belton had only consumed two drinks that evening.
The next morning, he woke up in pain with a vague idea of what had occurred, he said. His girlfriend Jessa Greiwe, who was also allegedly extremely intoxicated and slipped in and out of consciousness throughout the night, said she witnessed both anal and oral sex occurring between the two men.
He also said he has no memory of stabbing Belton, only recalling the argument and scuffle before hand– and the deadly aftermath. The ten-inch blade used to kill the professor was tucked into Griffin’s belt, as it usually was, Griffin said.
He said he removed the knife and held it between them as a way of warning Belton to back off, not intending to actually use the weapon– a method of intimidation he learned while fighting in Fallujah.
“I remember we were fighting and I remember he stopped fighting,” Griffin said. “He lurched forward and I saw what I had done.”
Read the rest of this story at Crimson Life Magazine.