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Witnesses Say Depression Led to Shooting

July 17, 2003
By Herbert Lowe

A former correction officer’s depression after a serious motorcycle accident ultimately led to his fatally shooting the mother of one of his three children over child support, defense witnesses testified yesterday in Queens.

Van Griffin, 38, spent 11 days in a coma after the 1996 accident that killed a woman who was riding with him on his motorcycle, his mother and four lifelong acquaintances said in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens.

‘He just seemed like he wasn’t the same person that he was prior to the motorcycle accident,’ Colin Richards, 37, a computer technician, testified.

Griffin and his attorney said he killed Felicia Cosby, an aspiring model and dancer, in her home in South Jamaica on Nov. 6, 2000, then went to the 105 th Precinct in Queens Village and surrendered.

But the attorney, Todd Greenberg, hopes to persuade Justice Evelyn Braun in a non-jury trial that Griffin”s actions fit the legal definition of ‘extreme emotional disturbance.’

If Braun agrees, she could find Griffin guilty of first-degree manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, instead of second-degree murder, which carries a 25 years to life sentence.

‘We know he’s going to [stay in] jail,’ Greenberg said of his client, who has been behind bars since Cosby”s death. ‘But [the shooting] is absolutely consistent with loss of self control.’

Assistant District Attorney Steven Antignani sought to show while cross-examining the defense witnesses that Griffin intentionally killed Cosby because he was anger that she wanted more child support.

Cosby was the mother of Griffin”s second child, Felisa, now 7 years old. He has two other daughter, now 14 and 3 years old, by two other women.