Murder trial begins for former MS corrections officer

Murder trial begins for former MS corrections officer
View of the court room photo credit: WDAM
View of the court room photo credit: WDAM
Shikaya Griffin talks about seeing her father's death photo credit: WDAM
Shikaya Griffin talks about seeing her father's death photo credit: WDAM
Crime Scene Investigator Jeff Byrd describes evidence photo credit: WDAM
Crime Scene Investigator Jeff Byrd describes evidence photo credit: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A trial began Tuesday for a former Mississippi Department of Corrections officer charged with second-degree murder in Hattiesburg.

Ray Thompson was charged in the 2014 shooting death of Oliver Griffin, 38, at Pinehaven apartments. Thompson was working as the courtesy officer at the apartment complex at the time.

On April 27, 2014, just after 6 p.m., Hattiesburg police responded to the shooting at 571 Helveston Road to find Griffin in the parking lot suffering from a  gunshot wound. Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem said the preliminary autopsy showed that Griffin died from a single gunshot wound to the left side of his chest. Thompson posted a $50,000 bond on April 28, 2014, and was released from the Forrest County Jail.

The prosecutors for the case were DeCarlo Hood and Jack Denton, who are assistant district attorneys for the 12th district. The defense was represented by Meredith Coxwell and Chuck Mullins from Jackson.

Griffin's children gave emotional testimonies about what they saw the night their father got shot.

His daughter, Shikaya Griffin, said she was 15-years-old when her father was killed. She said her father and his girlfriend, Roxanne Gale, were arguing in their home when Thompson kicked in the door to their apartment with a gun in his hand.

She said that her father walked out of their home and Thompson followed him outside to the parking lot.

Griffin said she decided to stay inside with her brother, Ja-kai Griffin, to keep out of harm's way.

A few minutes later, she went outside and saw Thompson facing her father with a gun in his hand. She said she could hear her father asking Thompson to put the gun down. As her father was walking away toward his car, she said she saw him get shot by Thompson.

"My dad started to hold his chest, he started walking back he turned around and fell and hit the ground," Shikaya Griffin said. "Me and my brother tried to go over to him to see if he was still alive."

Shikaya Griffin said she and Ja-kai Griffin rushed to their father's side, but stopped when Thompson pointed a gun at them and told them to stay away.

She also said her father's girlfriend ran toward her father and tried to shake him to see if he was still alive.

Hattiesburg Crime Scene Investigator Jeff Byrd testified and went over the crime scene photos with the jury.

He showed them pictures of the crime scene and Griffin's injuries.

He also showed pictures of the shell casing, bullet and keys that were found on the scene.

Several neighbors at Pinehaven testified and said they saw Griffin kick down the door to Thompson's home and saw their confrontation on the street.

HPD officer Brandon Badon testified and said he worked as a courtesy officer for the same company but at a different location.

He received a call from Thompson about the disturbance going on in the apartment.

Badon said Thompson called him and said, "Old boy down stairs is beating the crap out of the girl, can you come take his butt to jail."

Badon told Thompson to wait and that he was on his way to help out.

However, when he arrived, Griffin was already dead.

Attorney Jack Denton asked Badon about the role of a courtesy officer and he explained that their job is to assist management at the apartment complex.

Badon explained that their job is to enforce curfew, parking and to investigate damages to property.

He said courtesy officers are not allowed to carry guns on duty and are expected to call the police department when there is an emergency.

The trial will continue Wednesday morning.