STATE OF HAWAI`I, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. DARNELL GRIFFIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney(s) for Plaintiff-Appellee
Keith M. Kaneshiro, Prosecuting Attorney and Donn Fudo, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Attorney(s) for Defendant-Appelant
John M. Tonaki, Public Defender and James S. Tabe, Deputy Public Defender
COURT: Nakamura, CJ; Fujise and Ginoza, JJ.
SPECIAL NOTE: The above argument will take place in the Supreme Court courtroom on the Second Floor of Ali`iolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.
On April 4, 2007, Defendant-Appellant Darnell Griffin was charged, via indictment, with Murder in the Second Degree, in violation of HRS §707-701.5 and Sexual Assault in the First Degree, in violation of HRS §707-730. The charges related to the assault of Evelyn Luka, on or around September 5, 1999, and her death on October 2, 1999. The prosecution, at both the grand jury and trial stages, presented DNA evidence connecting Griffin to Luka's death. After hearing evidence at trial, a jury in the Circuit Court for the First Circuit returned a verdict on April 27, 2009, convicting Griffin on the murder charge but acquitting him on the sexual assault charge. The circuit court entered its judgment of conviction on July 1, 2009.
Griffin now challenges his conviction on four grounds. First, he contends that the circuit court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the indictment, in which Griffin alleged misconduct by the grand jury counsel. Second, Griffin argues that the circuit court erred in refusing to allow the defense to introduce evidence of the victim's prior sexual behavior, in violation of his constitutional rights and established rules of evidence. Third, Griffin claims that the court improperly allowed evidence of a telephone conversation he had with his wife from the police station. Finally, Griffin contends that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for murder in the second degree.