THE HICCUP GIRL, FELONY MURDER, AND JAILHOUSE PHONE CALLS

 Some of you may remember the “Hiccup Girl” Jennifer Mee:

Yeah. That’s her. You may also remember that in 2013 she was found guilty of first degree murder in a botched robbery where she lured the victim into an alley where two of her friends lay in wait. During the robbery one of them shot and killed the victim. Even though everyone agreed that Mee had no intention of killing the robbery victim, she was still charged and convicted with first degree murder.

How was this possible? Under Florida’s “Felony Murder” rule, which makes the participants in a felony (here a robbery) responsible is a murder is convicted during the commission of that felony. Because Mee intended to participate in the robbery, and the murder took place during the robbery, she could be convicted of the murder.

One thing I’d like to point out here: the state’s key piece of evidence against Mee was a recorded phone call she made from the jail.

During more than an hour of closing arguments Friday, prosecutors Jan Olney and Christopher LaBruzzo circled back to the same phrase: She set it all up.

Mee herself said those words, when she had first gotten arrested and called her mother from the Pinellas County Jail. In the recorded call, she explained why she had been charged with murder even though she did not fire the shots that killed Griffin.

“Because I set everything up,” Mee explained, close to crying. “It all went wrong, Mom. It just went downhill.”

In fact, LaBruzzo began his closing by playing the recording for the jurors again. Mee’s words were so powerful that prosecutor Olney said “Our star witness is Jennifer Mee.”

Phone calls from jail inmates are always recorded. Calls like this one can and do become key pieces of evidence. In fact, the phone system even tells you that the call is being recorded when you accept a jail call. Mee’s statement that she “set everything up” was not only enough to convict her, but enough for the prosecutor to call her the “star witness” against herself.

Her attorney has appealed her conviction, arguing that the shooting was an “independent act” that was not part of the robbery, and arguments are scheduled to happen today. It’s a longshot, especially if the shooting happened during the robbery or while leaving the robbery. We’ll see what happens when the appellate court issues their ruling, which won’t be for several months.