Killer is Cut a Break
July 30, 2003
By Eric Lenkowitz
The family of a woman shot to death by her correction-officer husband reacted with tears and outrage yesterday after the 38-year-old killer was convicted in a Queens Court of the lightest charge he faced – one that could get him as little as five years in jail.
‘It should have been murder,’ said Angelina Cosby, aunt to 26-year-old victim Felicia Cosby. ‘No jail time is enough. He deserves a death sentence.’
Justice Evelyn Braun, presiding over the nonjury trial, acquitted Van Griffin of second-degree murder charges that could have gotten him 25 years to life in prison, after she found he was suffering from an extreme emotional disturbance when he killed Cosby in a dispute over child support on Nov. 6, 2000.
But Braun convicted him of manslaughter.
‘This is such a sad and tragic case,’ Braun said before explaining the verdict.
Braun said her decision was based heavily on the testimony of psychiatrist Robert Berger and the doctor called in by prosecutor Antignani.
‘In large part, [psychiatrist Lawrence Siegel] corroborated every finding of Dr. Berger,’ the judge said.
Both psychiatrists agreed that Griffin suffered from brain damage and severe depression stemming from a 1996 motorcycle accident.
‘Van Griffin was suffering from a unique combination of stresses,’ Braun said.
Griffin”s lawyer, Todd Greenberg, said, ‘One of my strategies was to force then to call [Siegel].’
Braun said that when she factored the doctors” testimonies with those of Griffin”s friends and family, it all fit together.’
Griffin faces 5 to 25 years when he is sentenced Sept. 8, and Anitignani said he is, ‘going to ask for the maximum sentence.’
Braun said he would do ‘serious time.’
‘He still will be held responsible for this crime,’ Braun said. ‘[Cosby] had a right to live her life and he had no right to take her life.’
After the verdict Angelina Cosby said the extreme emotional disturbance defense is ‘just an excuse.’
Felicia Cosby’s father, Keith Cosby, said he expected the judge to rule in Griffin”s favor, but added, ‘less than 20 years, I’ll be upset.’