Jury convicts ex-Marine in IU professor slaying

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ An ex-Marine who admitted killing a gay Indiana University professor two days after they had a sexual encounter has been convicted of murder by a jury that found the slaying was intentional and not committed in the heat of anger.

 

 

Monroe County jurors found Michael Griffin guilty of murder late Thursday night after 12 hours of deliberations. The 27-year-old faces a prison sentence of 45 to 65 years in Don Belton's slaying.

The Herald-Times reports that Griffin admitted to jurors that he killed Belton in December 2009 by stabbing him 22 times with a knife that had a 10-inch-long, double-edged blade.

Griffin had claimed Belton, an assistant English professor, had raped him on Dec. 25, 2009, after a day of heavy drinking at Belton's Bloomington home. He said he killed Belton two days later in a rage when he confronted him about the alleged assault and Belton insisted the sex was consensual and that he must have enjoyed it since he didn't resist.

Griffin's girlfriend testified Tuesday that she saw the men have sex after the trio spent the day drinking at Belton's Bloomington home.

Jurors had the option of finding Griffin guilty of murder _ an intentional killing _ or the less-serious offense of voluntary manslaughter, killing someone in the sudden heat of emotion.

Deputy prosecutor Darcie Winkle said in Thursday's closing arguments that Griffin had 32 hours to decide what to do about the sexual encounter. She told jurors that he went to Belton's house to kill him, and then carried out the plan.

``He killed Don because he was humiliated about what happened,'' Winkle said. ``Actions speak louder than words. It's crystal clear what the defendant's intent was.''

Public defender David Collins told jurors in his closing arguments that Griffin snapped when Belton was flippant about Griffin's claim that Belton sexually assaulted him on Christmas Day 2009.

``He went to Don Belton's to get some understanding of what happened Christmas night,'' Collins told the jury. ``He was met with a smirk ... he wanted to hear it was not OK.''

Griffin also testified that he didn't remember stabbing Belton, whose body was found by a friend on the kitchen floor of his home the next day.

Griffin, who was awarded the Purple Heart after being injured in the Iraq war, said he had considered Belton a friend only and that he had not wanted to have sex with him. He testified Wednesday that Belton ``overextended his bounds. He sexually assaulted me, whatever you want to call it. Rape.''


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