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Judge Rules Today On Wife Slaying

July 29, 2003
By Scott Shifrel

Keith Cosby watched in court as lawyers talked about the five bullets that ended his daughter’s life and what her last words were, and showed him a video of his son-in-law confessing.

That was last week. Today, he awaits the judge’s decision on whether or not the son-in-law, Van Griffin, is sentenced on manslaughter or murder charges.

‘This isn’t hard,’ the 48-year-old father said after last week’s closing statements. ‘Burying her was hard.’

Griffin, 38, a former correction officer, is charged with shooting Felicia Cosby, 26, at her Jamaica home on Nov. 6, 2000, as the couple argued over child support for their daughter, then 4.

Kew Gardens Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Braun is hearing the case without a jury and is set to decide today whether Griffin is guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. If it’s murder, he’ll face 25 years to life in prison, manslaughter could mean a maximum of 25 years.

Griffin’s lawyer said his client suffered from extreme emotional distress, a finding that could lead to a manslaughter verdict.

Griffin had brain damage from a 1996 motorcycle accident, suffered from clinical depression and had numerous problems, including trying to meet child support payments, defense attorney Todd Greenberg said.

‘Van Griffin was a decent man his whole life,’ Greenberg said. ‘The only explanation for this action is that Van was acting under extreme emotional distress.’

But Griffin, who had three other children out of wedlock with three other women, created his own problems and was not under extraordinary pressure, prosecutor Stephen Antignani said.

‘It’s not in dispute that he pulled out his gun and fired five shots into her body,’ he said. ‘The only thing in dispute is whether he deserves mercy from this court.’

The case has clearly taken its toll on both families, who have attended nearly every court session.

‘This is a tragedy for everybody,’ said Griffin’s father, Marvin Griffin, 62, a former New York City police officer.

Cosby’s father has been silent through most of the trail, quietly taking notes in a composition notebook he borrowed from his granddaughter, who is now 7.

‘I want to see him get 25 to life,’ Keith Cosby said. ‘His daughter? She wants her father to apologize for what he did to her mother.’

Originally published on July 29, 2003