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Sun., Dec. 28
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Former Carthage woman renews bid to have murder conviction vacated

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A former Carthage woman has renewed her federal claim that she is being unlawfully detained in prison for killing her 3-year-old daughter.

Mandi T. Griffin, 34, is now incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Westchester County, serving a 22 -years-to-life sentence after being found guilty in December 2005, after a six-day trial in Jefferson County Court, of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault, all felonies, and a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges were in connection to the February 2005 beating death of her daughter, Vanessa, who had cerebral palsy. Trial testimony revealed that Vanessa Griffin died after her head was repeatedly banged against a wooden portion of a couch at her Carthage apartment. After the beating, Griffin placed the child face down on a bed because she did not want to hear the child scream. While the child was on the bed, Griffin left her alone while she exercised in the living room and then took a two-hour bath instead of seeking medical attention for her. A medical examiner testified that the child had been dead for three to five hours before she was brought to the emergency room at Carthage Area Hospital.

Griffin filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, in September 2009, claiming, among other things, that no expert testimony was presented on her behalf during a six-day trial in Jefferson County Court in December 2005. Because she had not exhausted all of her state remedies for a reversal of her conviction, the petition was dismissed in March 2010.

Griffin filed a new petition with the court Thursday, stating that she has now exhausted all state remedies, although the petition does not specify what actions led to this. She again is claiming in her federal motion that a County Court motion to have a forensic pathologist review her daughter’s autopsy was granted, but no medical expert was called to testify regarding the findings. She further claims, among other things, that her attorney did not investigate an alternative cause of death for her daughter and did not present any evidence from a toxicology report conducted on the child.

Griffin previously made similar claims of ineffective counsel to the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which rejected the claims and affirmed her conviction and sentence in February 2008.

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