September 8, 2003
By Herbert Lowe
A sobbing former correction officer begged for forgiveness from his 7-year-old daughter yesterday before a Queens judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting the girl's mother.
But prior to Van Griffin and Justice Evelyn Braun having their say in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens, the daughter had hers.
"I miss my mommy," the girl, whose name is being withheld because of her age, said of the late Felicia Cosby, who was 26, in a brief note read to the court by the daughter's grandfather, Keith Cosby.
"She's my best friend," she added. "Daddy took her away. You should apologize."
Griffin, 38, of Cambria Heights, soon tried.
"I am truly sorry for all that has been done," began the man whom Braun convicted July 29 of first-degree manslaughter in the Nov. 6, 2000, death of Cosby at her South Jamaica home.
Griffin then sobbed loudly.
"I miss her so much," he said of his daughter, who was attending her first day of second grade. "I am sorry for what I did to her mother."
Griffin and the victim were involved in a dispute about child-support payments. When Cosby told Griffin to leave her home that night, he shot her five times with a .38 handgun, Assistant District Attorney Steve Antignani said. Griffin turned himself in to the 105th Police Precinct later that night.
Prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder, a charge that carries a top sentence of 25 years to life. But in a non-jury trial, attorney Todd Greenberg persuaded Braun that Griffin's actions fit the legal definition of "extreme emotional disturbance."
That meant that Griffin could be found guilty of manslaughter, punishable by up to 25 years.
"Mercy has been shown already," Braun said while imposing sentence. "As the (victim's) family said, he still does have a life. Ms. Cosby, she never gets out. No mercy was shown to her. Hopefully she is in a better place."
Cosby, an aspiring model and dancer who was attending Mercy College, was the mother of Griffin's second child. He has two other daughters, now 14 and 3 years old, by two other women.
Mercy College has set aside a scholarship for Cosby's daughter for after she graduates from high school, officials said.