You know, there are just some stories that you can only read, shrug, and after repressing a bit of a smile, realize that the circumstances aren't funny at all - but, what can I say, the variations of human nature being what they are, we live in an often comical world of absurdities.
Consider the criminal case of Anthony Griffin, 44, Baltimore, MD.
On February 5, 2007, Griffin apparently found himself in a Baltimore lingerie store. Why? I dunno and federal prosecutors weren't exactly forthcoming with that tidbit. Given that Griffin had four prior convictions for robbery-related crimes - a "career offender" - howsabout we just agree to assume that he was up to no good?
So, back to the scene of the crime where we got Griffin in a lingerie store and he has picked out some items on the pretense that he wanted to buy them. Yeah, sure he did. Unfortunately, after the store-owner placed the items in a bag, Griffin announces: "This is a robbery," and demands the cash in the till. In response, the store-owner stuffed about $200 in the aforementioned bag. Not content with apparently scaring this merchant to death, Griffin then demands her diamond engagement ring, which she removed and gave to him.
Enter stage left, an unfortunate soul in the form of an unwary customer, who, upon entering the lingerie store, soon falls victim to the ongoing hold-up. First, Griffin forces the store-owner to tie the hands and feet of the customer with pantyhose; and then Griffin ties the owner's hands and feet with pantyhose. At this point, Griffin apparently makes his getaway.
Of course, given that Griffin is already a four-time loser, it seems that he either lacks a really good escape plan or the fates do not smile kindly upon him.
Just as our robber is leaving the premises, turns out that a friend of the store-owner was coming over to meet her - and just at that moment, the friend saw Griffin exiting the premises and for whatever reason believed something bad had just gone done. This quick-thinking citizen then alerts a nearby policeman, who found the bound store-owner and customer.
Did I mention to you that while he was staging the robbery, Griffin's mouth was red? Well, seems that was just the case, and the store-owner told that odd fact to the policeman.
What did the Baltimore police do with that red-mouthed robber clue? Quite a bit of impressive sleuthing as it turns out. They located a clerk at jewelry store near the lingerie store, and that employee identified Griffin in a photo lineup as the man who had drank and discarded a Slurpee at the jewelry store.
A Slurpee that turned out to be red in color.
A Slurpee that came in a cup with a straw.
A Slurpee that the Baltimore PD found.
The same Slurpee cup and straw that Griffin haphazardly tossed outside the jewelry store just before robbing the lingerie store. Turns out that there was enough DNA in the straw the cops found to link it to Griffin. And for good measure, the lingerie store-owner identified Griffin in a photo lineup.
On March 19, 2013, Griffin was sentenced in federal court in Baltimore to 151 months in prison and three years of supervised release for robbery. That sentence was enhanced because of Griffin's career offender status. One interesting toss-away of a comment in the Department of Justice's press release on this case is that Griffin's "federal sentence will be served concurrent to a 15-year state sentence Griffin is currently serving for a 2010 robbery conviction in Baltimore County." I'm still not quite sure how the robbery of a lingerie store became a federal offense but given the oddball nature of this case, I'm not going to spend too much time pondering that issue.
Oh, and one last bizarre bit of information.
Consider this amazing headline in the DOJ March 19, 2013, press release:
Baltimore Store Robber Exiled to More Than 12 Years in Prison
Robber Identified After Drinking a Red Slurpee Prior to the Robbery
Just two really brief comments before I end this article.
First - exiled? We now exile convicted criminals in the United States of America? Wow! I must have missed that in law school.
Second - I appreciate that Griffin is a career criminal, but when he's trying to survive in the Big House and keep his Street Cred, how does he deal with the fact that he was caught because of a Red Slurpee?