Eli Lucero, Associated Press
Glenn Howard Griffin, left, talks with his attorney, Randall Richards, during a recess in 1st District Court in Logan on Thursday.<BR>

LOGAN — The jury is out in the cold-case murder trial of Glenn Howard Griffin.

The prosecution and defense wrapped up closing arguments Thursday in a capital murder case that, while it may have begun last month, has lingered for more than two decades without closure.

Jurors deliberated until late into the evening and had not reached a verdict at press time.

Much of Griffin's fate hangs on the credibility of two then-college students' memories, the viability of DNA evidence tapped from a bloody dollar bill and how much to trust the word of a jailhouse rapist who said he heard Griffin's confession.

What verdict is returned, too, will decide if the questions asked about the last minutes of young Bradley Newell Perry's life at a roadside gas station finally have an answer, or if they are to continue unheeded.

Defense attorney Randall Richards said the case from the outset has had plenty of room for reasonable doubt.

The two former Utah State University students who were waited on at the family gas station shortly after or during Perry's murder have had 24 years to forget — or imagine — much about the man they met at the gas pumps that morning, he said.

"As we age we have gaps in our memories and our beautiful mind wants to fill those gaps with other things."

Richards pointed out that the suspect sketch in Perry's slaying drawn by one of the students showed a man without glasses. Griffin, his mother testified earlier in the trial, has worn glasses since age 5 — an accessory that made such a dramatic difference in his life that he told his mother he was unaware his neighbors had trees before he put them on.

Prosecutor Brad Smith, in rebuttal, told jurors the face on the sketch was that of a man who had just committed a murder and the glasses were most likely shed in the throes of a life-and-death struggle.

Richards also pointed to the questionable caretaking of forensic evidence over two decades and how — despite what evidence did exist — the fingerprints found at the scene of the crime were not those of his client.

And while there was DNA found on the dollar bill that prosecutors say matches that of Griffin's, Richards questioned the DNA methodology and pointed out there was no blood found on any of the murder weapons that pointed to Griffin.

Additionally, he said the inmate who said he overheard words spoken by Griffin that amounted to a "tantamount" confession were words from a "morally bankrupt" man.

"He rapes a little girl and tries to cover it up by forcing her to have an abortion? ... You can't trust a guy like that."

Smith characterized the defense's arguments as nothing more than theories and speculation designed to confuse the jury.

Griffin, 51, is accused of aggravated murder in Perry's 1984 death at the family gas station in Willard on U.S. 89. Perry, 21, was found bludgeoned and beaten early one May day after he had worked the night shift.

Prosecutors say someone held him down while another person stabbed him 15 times in the head with a screwdriver and crushed his skull with a soda pop cannister.

At some point during the night, the two USU students stopped at the station to buy gas and cigarettes and were surprised to find a man willing to pump the gas and make change. One of the dollar bills handled in the exchange, prosecutors say, had a red substance on it that 21 years later — with the advent of technology — is alleged to have traced back to Griffin.

Another man, Wade Garrett Maughan, has also been charged in the slaying. His case, too, is finally working its way through the court system.

Both face the death penalty if convicted.


E-mail: lindat@desnews.com