Jury Recommends Death for Eric Moffett - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 02/26/06

Jury Recommends Death for Eric Moffett

By Andrew Hasbun

It took more than eleven years, but the family of a murdered girl finally got justice.

Early Sunday morning, a jury sentenced Eric Moffett to death for the murder of his then girlfriend's daughter, Felicia Griffin. She was five when she was killed.

This is the first death sentence handed down in Hinds County since 1998.

Eric Moffett sat chewing gum when the judge when read the verdict and the sentence. Family members couldn't hold back the tears.

"This is a day of judgment for me that I got,” said Pennie Griffin, the victim’s mother. “I prayed for this, and I thank god for what I got today."

Pennie Griffin took the stand late Saturday during the sentencing phase. So did her daughter, LaQaundia Griffin. She was seven at the time of the murder. Both asked the jury to choose death.

"She was my baby, and she was loved by a lot of people,” said Pennie Griffin. “I've got two children still that will miss their sister, and I will miss my daughter. She deserved life just like anybody else."

Felicia Griffin, 5, was killed in 1994. Back then Moffett was charged and released. He claimed an intruder strangled the girl. Evidence proved it was Moffett who used his fist to destroy Felicia's genitals and killer her. DNA evidence helped re-open the case in 2002.

Despite the jury's decision, Eric Moffett's family stands by him. They plan to appeal.

"It didn't bother me because we have a second chance to do this. It is in gods hands now,” said Jeremy Moffett, Eric’s brother.

None of Moffett's family members took the stand during sentencing.

"My brother is not guilty. He is innocent,” said Jeremy Moffett.

The Griffin family embraced outside the courtroom. Closure for them is now just one step away.

"I have to put a headstone on her,” said Pennie Griffin. “She never had a headstone, and, until this day, I couldn't put a headstone on her."

The judge set an execution date for April, 26. Because the Moffett's plan to appeal, that date will likely be pushed back.

The last person executed in Mississippi was John B. Nixon Sr. in December. He was on death row for nearly two decades.

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