CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – A Florida woman who became famous for her uncontrollable hiccupping was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday night and will serve life in prison without parole.
A Pinellas County jury deliberated for four hours before delivering the verdict against 22-year-old Jennifer Mee.
Mee wept in the Clearwater courtroom as the verdict was read. Minutes later, Judge Nancy Moate Ley explained that the only possible sentence for the charge was life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The verdict and five-day trial was a sad end to a chapter in Mee’s short and sad life. Her attorneys said she suffered from schizophrenia and Tourette’s Syndrome, and a court psychiatrist said Mee’s intelligence was “low normal.”
As a 15-year-old, Mee developed a case of the hiccups that wouldn’t go away. She appeared on several TV shows and while on the “Today” show, was hugged by fellow guest and country music star Keith Urban. She tried home remedies and consulted medical specialists, a hypnotist and an acupuncturist, until the hiccups finally stopped on their own, though not for good.
Her attorney, John Trevena, said his client was on medication to control the hiccupping, and even then, she occasionally had bouts.
She hiccupped briefly during one day of her murder trial.
In 2010, Mee lured Shannon Griffin, a 22-year-old Wal-Mart worker, to an abandoned home under the pretense of buying marijuana. Once there, two of Mee’s friends robbed Griffin at gunpoint _ but he struggled and was shot four times.
Mee’s co-defendant, LaRon Raiford, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in August. Lamont Newton, the other co-defendant who was also Mee’s boyfriend at the time of the crime, has not yet gone to trial.
Trevena said his client did not orchestrate the robbery and that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her. But prosecutors said Mee did set everything up, and used police interviews and a taped jailhouse phone call between Mee and her mother as evidence.
During the call, she told her mother that she did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed Griffin, but that she was charged with murder.
“Because I set everything up,” Mee explained during the call that was played for the jury. “It all went wrong, Mom. It just went downhill.”
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