To be accused of murdering someone in my family is gut wrenching. To discover that city officials basically framed me, only make matters much worse. I should go back in time to allow you to get a glimpse of my sisters as a whole.
Tamika is our oldest sister. She is a year older than myself. I was just joking with her the other day about being old. We both laughed at that one. As children, Tamika and I laughed often, always joking around. The only time she became flustered was when I followed her around. True, I followed her because for some weird reason. I always felt like being around her was a shield of protection. Tamika back then was a ‘cry baby’. It didn’t make matters better that she had grandma’s seizures. So I was always there, always. I can’t count the number of fights I got into behind the insults shot at her. Some she knew about others she didn’t. It was like a trigger – screw with Tamika, I was usually coming. To date: I only failed her once when one of her boyfriends touched her. I was afraid of his reputation. Looking at it now that was foolish and I should have responded in kind. The only other person that I couldn’t stop was her father. His insult is something we will never forget, ever. Nowadays I still tell her I love her dearly, which I do. My love for my sisters was cemented with Tamika and it trailed right to Chaka, my sister that I’m accused of murdering her.
When Chaka came from the hospital, Tamika and I were right there preaking in her baby pen and sharing smiles. When we had the chance we played with her very often. I can still smell that baby powder and baby lotion that our mother rubbed on her. After she finally started walking and going to school, I always kept an eye on her as well as Tamika. I can still remember also all those tears Tamika, Chaka and I shared. On a glaring moment we were at our uncle’s home on a summer vacation. I had done something REAL stupid and my uncle placed the barrell of his shotgun right in my face. Chaka was right there. She stepped between me and the gun. While writing this I see their faces. We didn’t say we love one another often but we did. Yeah, we argued, all siblings do and yeah, Chaka and I had our confrontations. We were both alike in that regards. She was not a cry baby at all, in fact she didn’t tolerate much from no one. That included me.
One of my last glaring memories was the time she called me, after a guy slapped my then girlfriend, a threaten to beat her up. Off I ran, full speed without asking any questions. When I arrived, there the girl stood crying. Chaka was not, she demanded that I dealt with him. I never stopped running. Chaka and the girl trotted behind me. Ironically that very lady that fabricated and framed with the D.A. against me, was right there along with a large following. Steve Burney exploded out of the crowd and we met in the middle of the street. Punches were passed, my own were greatly more ineffective. I did not feel the first cut slash across my gut. My skin peeled open like butter. The box cutter was emotionless. I continued throwing punches as the second cut slashed inches above the first. Blood was running down my clothes but my adrenaline was too high. Then the sweat met open flesh and I finally realized I was cut. I made sure Chaka and the girl were out of harm. I stood between them when he, with a sharp razor, (although my punches held him at bay), caused another cut across my left arm. I turned away to run and was blessed to receive another deep gash across my left shoulder blade. I dived inside a moving car. The guy offered me a gun – I refused. I’m not a killer. He pulled in his yard and cops came from everywhere. I remember other things but what stood out was my mother, Tamika and Chaka all crying over my exhausted body. I walked away with 15 stitches but what hurted the most was the lasting impression the State’s eye witness had of me. She, in my opnion used what she have seen there, to make an opinion about me. But this is not about her, this is all about the L-O-V-E we share. Now move to the day of the alleged crime.
I lay on my mother’s couch – once again I had left my children’s mother. That night, I was selling drugs, smoking pot and drinking. The hard stuff I usually stayed far away from. I stumbled to my mother’s house and fell soundly asleep. I was awaken, the next morning my niece, Chaka’s daughter and our baby brother T.J. were arguing over a Nintendo game. Tamika, Chaka and the ‘State’s eyewitness’, were in our kitchen. Tamika and Chaka were doing their hair. Curling iron, hair dryer and amok ran in our kitchen. With 4 people, it was stuffed. I looked around and my pager started blowing up with the same number. I should, for the kids to get along, quit the screaming at each other. Chaka disagreed and stormed inside the room and clicked off the game. The kids immediately started crying. I demanded that she allowed them to play the game. We disagreed and an argument followed to the point where she went to the kitchen and pulled a 6 inch butcher’s knife. I immediately walked to the kitchen and demanded her to put the knife down. She didn’t and in the process of me trying to make her, she cut me across the hand. We fell forwards as the knife tumbled her on her back and me on top of her. Tamika screamed for us to stop. As Tamika testified in court ‘it was over quick’. I got up and she was right behind me, screaming. I grabbed my things of the couch, she grabbed the cordless and called the cops. She started giving them the description of what I was wearing, the direction I was headed. An associate pulled up, I got inside his car, she ran around the back of the car and gave out the plate number. I got out of the car and walked away – she followed me until the phonecall dropped. I went to my uncle’s house and had my cousin drop me off at the police station.
At the police station
I was placed in a holding cell for hours. That night I was taken to the drunk tank. I was not high or drunk so I was confused until the cell door slammed and my rights were read … I can still hear how those words: ‘First degree murder’ trickled off the cops lips. I only remember lying on the floor, how I got there I have no idea. I rolled around SCREAMING in anguish for hours. Something in me SNAPPED – BROKE! I wanted to know what happened after I left. Coincidently Tamika was there to pick up. ‘Tamika what happened?! Tamika was crying as well and said: ‘she came back inside our house and collapsed. Ruth called the ambulance because I was too emotional to do it. She died at the hospital’. My heart sank, the room started spinning, ‘I cannot take this Tamika, this is too much pain to take. I want out. I’m going to kill myself’. Tamika started screaming ‘No! No! No! Then we’ll lose both of ya’ll, don’t do it Derrick, please!’ Again, Tamika was there. She, like always, loved me then as well as now.
Never give up
To make it short: the State’s witness told numerous lies which only helped my crooked attorney and the D.A. get me convicted. The State claimed I beated my sister to death causing blunt trauma and severe edema. Years later I got the hospital records which state my sister died of cardiac arrest. Dr. Plunkett, Dr. Peter Stephens and finally Dr. Bonnell cleared up all the lies.
Just imagine if I would have gave up, the truth would have died with me because my family wanted to get away from the event. God kept me in it. Those crooked officials figured I was too dumb to keep fighting. What they failed to realize is I’ve been fighting all my life.
Derrick L. Griffin, 31-01-2021