Prosecutors in the murder trial against Herbert Hayes say that John Wesley Griffin’s fatal stabbing was premeditated and deliberate, and that the evidence against Hayes as the murderer is “virtually undisputed.” Hayes’ defense attorney argues, though, that the government’s key witness is “tainted” and can’t be trusted.
Jurors heard these closing arguments Thursday morning before beginning their deliberations around 11:30 a.m.
Hayes, 40, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the May 2012 stabbing death of 41-year-old John Griffin.
Cornelius Johnson, a former Prince George’s County police officer, testified at trial that he witnessed Hayes stab Griffin multiple times in the 1200 block of North Capitol Street Northwest.
According to Johnson, on the night of May 18, 2012, he saw Griffin run into the street, yelling for police, with Hayes chasing him. Johnson said that when Griffin reached the street, he turned to Hayes and raised his fists in a fighting position.
“When he had nowhere else to turn, [Griffin] turned to defend himself,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Dedjinou told jurors Thursday. “But his attacker had a knife. Griffin had no knife; he had his fists, that’s it.”
Johnson testified that Hayes threw several strikes to Griffin’s upper body. Then Griffin collapsed to the sidewalk and Hayes stood over him holding a blade. Johnson said he ran after Hayes, but could not catch up to him.
Hayes claims, though, that Johnson identified him as the suspect because they had dated the same women. He “had a grudge against me,” Hayes testified at trial.
Marvelette Speller, Hayes’ ex-wife, testified that Hayes called her around ten times on the evening of the murder, and on the last call told her he stabbed someone.
“[Hayes] put his own name in the murder,” Dedjinou told the court. “The defendant confided in her on the night of the murder.”
Russell Hairston, Hayes’ defense attorney, argued that the government’s single eyewitness could not be trusted because he had been terminated from the police department for lying about accidentally firing his weapon in public.
“C.J. is tainted,” Hairston said. “He’s a horrible, horrible liar.”
If a verdict is not reached Thursday, jury deliberations will continue Friday morning.