A Brazos County jury has found Stanley Griffin guilty of capital murder in the September 2010 death of Jennifer Hailey of College Station, which included the kidnapping of her then-nine-year-old son.
The jury deliberated 65 minutes following closing arguments.
As a result, he faces either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors are seeking death.
The punishment phase of the trial begins Thursday morning.
The jury began deliberating the case at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.
DNA evidence shows Griffin killed the 29-year-old Hailey in her apartment and attacked her then-nine-year-old son in September 2010.
To convict Griffin of capital murder, the state had to prove to the jury that the son was, by the letter of the law, kidnapped. Capital murder is a murder committed during the commission of a certain set of felony crimes.
The state looked to convince the jury Hailey was still alive when her son received an order from Griffin to go back to his room. Prosecutors argued Hailey was still struggling for her life, which she eventually lost by strangulation, according to the autopsy.
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Griffin's defense team argued the evidence the state relied on was not enough to prove Hailey was alive. They contended Hailey was already dead when the boy came upon his mother and the murderer.
Even still, the defense said the son's movements were never restricted and that he was never confined in his home. The state argued the order by Griffin to the boy as he had the boy's mother served to restrict the boy by fear he could be hurt.
Griffin attacked the boy when he reemerged from his room minutes after he was ordered back, including with strikes to the head and neck with a garden trowel.
"[The boy] was never going to leave these four walls," prosecutor Brian Baker said in closing arguments. "He (Griffin) was going to do everything in his power to make sure he didn't see the light of day again."
The jury could have found Griffin guilty of a lesser murder charge if they didn't believe a kidnapping took place or if they had believed Hailey was dead before a kidnapping. That would have taken the death penalty off the table.
"Justice for Jennifer is convicting Stanley Griffin of murder," defense attorney Stephen Gustitis told the jury, a complete concession that the state's evidence proves Griffin was the killer. "If you convict Stanley Griffin of murder, he's not getting away with anything."
The DNA of Griffin was found under the fingernails of Hailey, according to a DPS crime lab analyst.
On the third day of testimony in the trial, analyst Allison Heard also told the jury the trowel found in an outdoor trash can near the Hailey home the morning of the murder was covered in the blood of Hailey's son. Heard could match any DNA on the handle.
The blood of the child was found on the shoes Griffin was wearing when he was arrested hours after the murder, this according to Emma Becker, a second crime lab analyst who testified Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors contended Hailey used her right hand to try and rip Griffin's left arm from around her neck. When authorities found Griffin later the day of the murder, he had fresh scratch marks on his left arm. He said they were caused two days earlier from riding his bike through brush.
A baseball cap found in the Pedernales Drive home of Hailey and her son was also tested for DNA. Hailey's DNA almost certainly was found on it, Heard testified. With other DNA found on the cap, Griffin could not be excluded as a possibility, but it was not as conclusive.
Shortly before the murder, Griffin was seen in surveillance video at a Navasota convenience store with a friend, who testified to dropping Griffin off near Hailey's home. He was wearing a similar hat.
The State of Texas called 18 of its listed 294 potential witnesses. The defense called just one, a College Station police detective who discussed the investigation and his interviews with Hailey's son.
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