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Father Charged With Murder in Death of Comatose Daughter

United Press International

A grief-stricken man whose 3-year-old daughter was left comatose by a freak accident last October sat quietly by her hospital crib for more than two hours, then drew a gun and shot her to death, police said Saturday.

Charles Griffith, 25, was charged with first-degree murder in the death late Friday of his daughter, Joy, who suffered brain damage when her neck became wedged in the footrest of a reclining chair. She had been at Miami Children’s Hospital ever since.

“When his daughter had that accident, Charles went completely to hell,” said co-worker William Kelly. “He lost all interest in anything. All he could do was go over there (to the hospital) every day to see his daughter.”

Metro-Dade police spokesman James Hutton described the shooting as a mercy killing.

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The blonde, blue-eyed girl never regained consciousness but was breathing on her own and was fed through stomach tubes, hospital spokeswoman Laura Fechter said.

Griffith entered the intensive care nursery about 9 p.m. Friday and walked over to his daughter’s crib, Hutton said. He “spent some time with her” and, about two hours later, drew a handgun and shot her twice in the chest, then quietly surrendered, Hutton added. No one else was injured.

Joy, who was 2 when the accident occurred last October, occasionally opened her eyes but did not respond to sound or touch and was “in a vegetative state,” said Dr. Charles Wetli, Dade County’s deputy chief medical examiner.

“We’re looking at a very tragic situation that resulted in violence,” Wetli said. “I think it probably was an act of anger.”

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Kelly, who works with Griffith at a movie theater owned by Griffith’s father, said: “Knowing how much he has loved this little child and the way I have seen Charles go downhill in grief over this horrible situation, I cannot possibly understand how any prosecutor in his right mind would charge this man with murder. He doesn’t need punishment--he needs help.”


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