Man on trial for '06 shooting death

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By Johnathan Ryan

The state rested its case Tuesday afternoon in the death of Lamont Witherspoon, who suffered a fatal gunshot on a Lancaster street while others stood close by in December 2006.

Jerry McGriff, 38, of Lancaster, is on trial for the murder.

The state alleges that McGriff shot Witherspoon after an altercation outside the Taylor Street residence of Barbara Green, who the two men were reportedly romantically involved with.

McGriff found Witherspoon at Green's home during the morning of Dec. 16, 2006, and a fight ensued in the front yard with family, friends and neighborhood residents present.

Dr. Bradley Marcus, a forensic pathologist with the Medical University of South Carolina, testified on Tuesday that Witherspoon died from a single contact gunshot wound to the neck.

Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield's case was dealt a possible blow when Judge Brooks Goldsmith denied the admittance of two guns that Barfield alleged were involved in the incident. No forensic evidence is available that links McGriff to Witherspoon's death.

Late Tuesday afternoon, McGriff's attorney, William Frick, made a motion for Goldsmith to issue a direct verdict on grounds of insufficient evidence to convict his client.

"There is not enough evidence for this to go to jury," Frick said.

Barfield disagreed, saying while there was certainly conflicting testimony, there is sufficient evidence to convict.

Goldsmith declined to dismiss the case.

Before court recessed for the day, Goldsmith advised McGriff on his right not to testify and indicated he would ask him today about his plans to do so or not.

Contact reporter Johnathan Ryan at jryan@thelancasternews.com or (803) 416-8416