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Abusive Childhood, Last Love Interest Part of Griffin Trial Testimony

Stanley Griffin's longtime and last girlfriend said he would do anything for her, but was constantly put down by a mother who never showed she loved him.

As a child, the convicted murderer was slapped, hit, beaten with sticks and boards, and called names by his mother, all according to aunts who also testified in their nephew's trial Monday.

Andrea Copelyn, a witness recalled by the defense in the punishment phase of the proceedings, discussed part of her long relationship with the man found guilty of killing Copelyn's former coworker, Jennifer Hailey, in her College Station home in 2010.

While there were constant fights, including one that turned physical and led to Griffin going to jail, Copelyn always wanted to be with him eventually. She ended the relationship in July 2010 because Griffin and her kids weren't getting along, but she wanted her kids to get through school, then planned on going back to him.

"I don't think anyone will love me like he did," Copelyn testified. "It was crazy, intense." She said Griffin would care for her, cook and clean. He tried to get employment, but had trouble keeping jobs and passing tests for a commercial driver's license.

Griffin was so in love with Copelyn that witnesses have testified to their break-up as seemingly being a breaking point for Griffin, who two months later killed Hailey and attacked her nine-year-old son. His attitude changed in that period, and his smile disappeared.

Griffin stayed with Copelyn's friends for a bit after the break-up, then went to SOS Ministries. After a church event Copelyn attended to support Griffin, he asked to come home, only to be denied by Copelyn. She says Griffin "lost it," got in her car and begged to be taken home.

Griffin was kicked out of SOS, stayed in a vacant house a couple of nights, but lived in a park, though Copelyn admitted their physical relationship continued as other aspects were on hold.

Asked if she still loved Griffin despite his crimes, Copelyn said, "I don't love the Stanley that did that to Jennifer. I love the Stanley that I had. They're different."

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The third day of the punishment phase began with testimony from four aunts, sisters of Stanley's father, the late Willie "Tootsie" Griffin.

The siblings spoke of growing up in a strict, spiritual, caring home. The family worked on a tobacco farm near Quincy, Florida. "Tootsie" married Dorothy, who the sisters said was relentlessly abusive towards her husband and her two kids.

Griffin's mother and her latest husband are due to testify Tuesday.

Stanley Griffin's aunts said they repeatedly saw Dorothy hitting her husband and kids with her hands, sticks and boards, leaving welts and bruises on them. The abuse happened in the farm fields and in the home, but was not relegated to physical abuse.

The aunts said they did not witness positive reenforcement from Dorothy to her kids. She would curse them and call Stanley "stupid," "black as tar," "crazy" and "just like your daddy."

They also said Dorothy would talk back to her mother- and father-in-law, who tried to provide Stanley Griffin with love and support, along with the aunts.

One aunt said Stanley was slow to grasp his studies and needed repeated emphasis from her when they were going over his schooling. Another aunt said Griffin was a "joyful," an "ordinary" boy who would put on talent shows and play games.

The jury has two options for punishment: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. To sentence him to death, the jury must determine Griffin is a future danger to others, and that there are no mitigating circumstances that would prevent the State of Texas from executing the 47-year-old.

The defense is arguing that Griffin is mentally retarded, thus making him ineligible for the death penalty under the U.S. Constitution.

Early Monday afternoon, educators from Gadsden County, Florida testified about Griffin's records from a special needs school program. While they did not remember Griffin because of the hundreds and thousands of students they educated, their records from the early 1980s showed Griffin had a low IQ -- 65 as he entered middle and high school years -- and struggled to retain information.

Prosecutors said they would provide their own experts to counter the defense's and prove Griffin is not mentally retarded. They are asking the jury to sentence Griffin to death.


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