Thursday, January 17, 2008






  Griffin guilty of murder
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–A Kaufman County jury found Daniel Joseph Griffin, 35, guilty of murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a 15-year-old.
The verdict was announced late Friday after a week-long trial.
The charges stemmed from the Oct. 9, 2006, stabbing death of Cheri Lynn Duggan, the mother of his 19-year-old girlfriend.
“We were not able to agree on capital murder. We definitely all agreed on murder,” jury foreman Kyle Traylor was quoted in the Jan. 12 issue of the Dallas Morning News.
Griffin will have to wait until 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, to hear 422nd State District Court Judge B. Michael Chitty pass sentence.
Both capital murder and murder convictions can bring a life sentence, but a capital murder sentence has no possibility of parole.
Griffin had moved into the Duggan home, but spent the the night before the murder in a tent beside the home.
He admitted in an interview following his arrest in Houston that he smoked crack cocaine, and that he had “done something bad.”
Although he said he did not kidnap his girlfriend, she was with him when authorities caught up with the pair in Houston.
Griffin took the stand in his own defense Thursday, again admitting to smoking crack throughout the night.
But, he said when he went into the house, Duggan came at him with a knife.
He said he blacked out and couldn’t remember what happened, just that when he woke up, he was covered in blood and holding the knife.
Griffin said he tied up the two other daughters and put them in the closet.
He said he had consensual sex with the 15-year-old before he tied her up. Under Texas law, a youth under 17 cannot legally consent to sex.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Corrigan told the jury a self-defense plea was not possible.
Duggan was stabbed in the neck nine times and then her throat was cut.
“There’s no such thing as self-defense from behind,” Corrigan explained.
District Attorney Rick Harrison called Griffin’s amnesia “convenient.”
Harrison described Griffin as “a cold-blooded, teenage-raping cancer on Kaufman County.”

Asleep at the Wheel band comes to Gater’s
Special to The Monitor
GUN BARREL CITY–Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel will be in concert Friday, Jan. 18, at Gater’s Sports Bar & Grill, located at 623 S. Gun Barrel Lane, Suite A, in Gun Barrel City.
Band members include Ray Benson, lead guitar and vocals, Jason Roberts, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals, Eddie Rivers Malak, steel guitar and sax, David Miller, bass and vocals, David Sanger, drums, Elizabeth McQueen, guitar and vocals, and John Michael Whitby, piano.
Over the course of the last 37 years, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel have boldly defied the fickle lures of the mainstream – and thrived – by sticking to their noble cause of keeping that distinctly American of art forms, western swing, alive and kicking.
Started in 1970 in Paw Paw, West Va., the band played its first big show in Washington, D.C., opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna.
One of the many milestones accomplished by the band is touring with Bob Dylan and George Strait in 2000.
Along the way, they’ve been awarded nine Grammys, entertained millions and won praise and admiration from the likes of Willie Nelson to Bob Dylan, George Strait to Van Morrison. Asleep at the Wheel has been called the “post-modern kings of western swing,” and given their storied history, a title that few would question.
Asleep at the Wheel is an American musical institution, a kinship of like-minded musicians united under Benson’s crusade to carry the torch of big band western swing music into the 21st century, featuring a lineup not only spectacularly talented but also noticeably youthful.
Also coming soon is country singer Stoney LaRue Friday, Jan. 25, followed by legendary rock band Bad Company.
Bad Company will be performing at Gater’s pre-Super Bowl bash Saturday, Feb. 2.
For tickets, call (903) 880-9960. Seats may be reserved by credit card.

City okays street repair agreement
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–A long-time complaint from Kemp citizens has been what many term the “deplorable conditions” of city streets.
City council members approved an interlocal agreement with Kaufman County for road maintenance during its regular meeting Jan 8.
“Basically, this agreement authorizes the county to do the work. The city will pay for time and material,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller said.
The council members approved a second agreement with the county that allows the city to “piggyback” with the county.
“This will allow us to use the county contracts to purchase oil sand for road maintenance,” city administrator James Stroman said.
In other business, council members:
• appointed Eddie Argo as the city public works director.
The motion pays Argo $14 per hour until he receives his Class B license, then he will receive a $1 increase to $15 per hour.
“I’m very pleased to serve the city in this position. I hope to soon have everything working like it should,” Argo said.
• approved a contract with the county to do improvements to 3rd Street.
Deller measured the street and estimated the cost of material at approximately $2,000. The developer will pay for all materials, Stroman explained.
• agreed to the necessary ordinance updates to allow the proposed sign for the incoming Sonic Drive-In.
• approved a contract for Nature Calls Sanitation Service.
Stroman explained the city has been working with the same contract as the former service.
The new contract will start Tuesday, Jan. 15, and run for three years. A rate increase consideration date of Jan. 15, 2009, was included.
• approved a city ordinance declaring unreasonable spinning or sliding of motor vehicle tires unlawful.
“This will keep us from having to take some 16-year-old to jail as the law is now written,” Police Chief Richard Clemmo said.
• passed a resolution to acquire fee simple title to approximately 4.920 acres of land situated off the Old Tolosa Road for a proposed wastewater plant expansion. The property is alongside property already being used by the city’s water utility plant.
The resolution authorizes the city administrator to establish just compensation for the property, and to take all steps necessary to acquire the property rights.
“The people who own the property are wanting several times the appraised value,” Stroman said.
“This resolution is the first step in starting a condemnation proceeding,” city attorney Terry Welch said.
• heard the city will begin issuing citations for code violations for properties on State Highway 274. This has been an ongoing problem for the city, Stroman said.
• accepted a development agreement with Kemp Lakeside Investors LLC regarding Beacon Hill, a 100-acre high-end housing development with amenities, which has been in the works for two years.
The agreement will help the developer to begin utility installation in the absence of a plat approval, which is still premature at this point, Stroman told The Monitor.
Stroman said the easements will need close scrutiny to make sure the electric lines are not too close to the water lines.
“The plat will be signed off after it goes through the Planning and Zoning Commission,” he said.