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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: August 14, 1986
Date of birth: February 6, 1961
Victims profile: Jerome Redden, 22, and his girlfriend, Loretta Trotter, 19
Method of murder: Beating with a wrench - Stabbing with knife
Location: St. Louis County, Missouri, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Missouri on March 25, 1998
petition for a writ of certiorari
application for grant of pardon, reprieve or conmmutation of sentence

State of Missouri v. Milton Griffin-El

756 S.W. 2d 475 (Mo. banc 1988)

Milton Griffin-El was executed on March 25, 1998

Case Facts:

On August 14, 1986 Milton Griffin-El and five other individuals met to discuss a burglary and robbery. The intended victims were Mr. Jerome Redden and his girlfriend, Ms. Loretta Trotter, who lived with their four-month-old son in Redden’s apartment, located above the Redden Cleaners, a family owned business.

One of the group, Antoine Owens, knew of some stereo and television equipment Redden owned because he had visited the apartment on occasion with his girlfriend, Pamela Trotter, Loretta Trotter's sister. Owens indicated to the others that following the burglary he would have to kill Redden and Loretta Trotter because they knew him.

Later that day Griffin-El, Owens and three others went to Redden's' apartment. Griffin-El and Owens knocked on the door and asked Redden for a ride home. Redden asked Loretta Trotter if it was all right for the men to come upstairs but she told him no.

When Redden returned he told the two men that they could not enter the apartment. Griffin-El and Owens then forced their way into the apartment.

The two men told Redden and Trotter to lie on the floor in the living room. Trotter begged the two men not to hurt them and told them that her four-month-old baby was also in the apartment.

Griffin-El decided that Redden and Trotter needed to be tied up. After Trotter was tied up with an extension cord Griffin-El told Owens to take Redden into the kitchen and tie him up. After Owens took Redden into the kitchen Griffin-El choked Trotter until she passed out. Griffin-El then went to the kitchen where he began to tie up Redden.

Owens returned to the living room to check on Trotter and the two struggled. Griffin-El then tied Trotter up a second time with some torn bed sheets. Griffin-El then returned to the kitchen and asked Redden where the money was. Redden continued to reply "don't hurt her."

Griffin-El began strangling Redden with an extension cord and torn bed sheets. In the living room, Owens stabbed Trotter twice in the lower chest and four times in the throat with a steak knife. She died from a stab wound that penetrated her heart.

Redden then continued to yell from the kitchen whereupon Griffin-El hit Redden in the back of- the head with a wrench he had secured from the kitchen area. The blow knocked Redden out whereupon Owens stabbed Redden twice in the abdomen with the steak knife.

As Redden came to he began struggling and Griffin-El stabbed him with a butcher knife four times in the chest. The Medical Examiner ruled that the blow to Redden's head was the cause of death

The two men covered Redden and Trotter with bed sheets and Griffin-El took the wrench and threw it into a trashcan. Owens took the two knives out of the apartment and disposed of them.

The men who were waiting downstairs then helped load the stolen stereo and television equipment into a van owned by Redden Cleaners. Griffin-El had taken the keys for the van from victim Redden. Redden and Trotter's four-month-old baby was left unharmed in the apartment.

Four days later Pamela Trotter overheard Griffin-El describe the beating and murder of Redden and her sister. The police were contacted and they arrested Owens and two other men.

Griffin-El then called Owens' mother and reported that the three men had nothing to do with the crime and that he had killed the couple. Griffin-El also told Mrs. Owens that he was going to kill Pamela Trotter for reporting the crime to the police. Following his statements Griffin-El was subsequently arrested.


Legal Chronology

10/09 -- Milton Griffin-El pleaded guilty to Burglary Second Degree in the City of St. Louis and was sentenced to 90 days in the St. Louis Medium Security institution.

03/24 -- Milton Griffin-El pleaded guilty Attempted Burglary Second Degree and was sentenced to one year in the St. Louis County Jail.
12/12 -- Milton Griffin-El pleaded guilty to Robbery First Degree and Stealing a Motor Vehicle in the City of St. Louis and was sentenced to nine years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

8/14 - Griffin-El participates in the murders of Jerome Redden and Loretta Trotter in the City of St. Louis.
9/9 - Griffin-El is indicted for two counts of murder first degree, two counts of robbery first degree, stealing a motor vehicle and knowingly burning.

2/7 - Griffin-El is charged by amended information as a prior and Class X offender.
6/22 - Griffin-El is tried in the St. Louis City Circuit Court.
6/30 - Griffin-El is convicted of two counts of murder first degree. The jury sentences Griffin-El to life imprisonment without parole in the murder of Loretta Trotter and deadlocks on punishment for the murder of Jerome Redden.
7/7 - The trial court imposes a sentence of death for the murder of Jerome Redden.
8/7 - Griffin-El's motion for a new trial is denied.

6/29 - Griffin-El files a motion for post-conviction relief.

8/21 - The Circuit Court denies the motion for post-conviction relief.
8/29 - The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Griffin-El's convictions and sentences.

7/31 - The Missouri Supreme Court affirms the denial for post-conviction relief.

7/5 - Griffin-El files a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

1/13 - Habeas corpus petition held in the United States District Court.

7/31 - Petition for habeas corpus denied and certificate of probable cause to appeal issued.
9/27 - Notice of Appeal filed in the United States Eighth Court of Appeals.
10/7 - Appeal docketed by the U. S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
10/22 - Respondent moves to quash the certificate of appealability and dismiss the appeal.
11/4 - U. S. Court of Appeals orders Griffin-El to show why a certificate of appealability should not be denied.
12/30 - Griffin-El responds to the show cause order.

3/21 - The U. S. Court of Appeals denies the certificate of appealability, quashes the certificate of probable cause and dismisses the appeal.
8/11 - Griffin-El's petition for a rehearing en banc is denied.
9/4 - The U. S. Court of Appeals issues its mandate.

1/20 - The U. S. Supreme Court denies certiorari and the State of Missouri files a motion to set an execution date in the Missouri Supreme Court.
2/10 -The Missouri Supreme Court sets an execution date for March 25, 1998.


Milton Griffin-El, 37, said: "Tell my son and family that I love them," shortly before his execution at 12:05 a.m. at the Potosi Correctional Center.

As the doses were administered, Griffin-El smiled. A few minutes earlier, he asked the families of his victims and God to forgive him.

In 1986, Griffin-El and a cohort, Antoine Owens, visited Jerome Redden, 22, and his girlfriend, Loretta Trotter, 19, to steal the stereo equipment from their St. Louis apartment.

Owens, 31, killed Trotter, stabbing her in the throat. Griffin-El admitted hitting Redden in the head with a wrench, then stabbing him. The couple's 4-month-old baby was unhurt.

The jury gave Owens life without parole, but deadlocked on Griffin-El's sentence; the trial judge imposed the death sentence.

Griffin-El sought to appeal the sentence to the 8th Circuit, claiming race discrimination because he was black and 10 of the 12 jurors were white.

But the 8th Circuit, citing a 1996 rule change aimed at limiting federal appeals in death penalty cases, refused to hear the case. On Monday, the US Supreme Court refused Griffin-El's appeal that the 8th Circuit ruling was improper since it retroactively applied the 1996 rule to a decade-old case.

Gerald Sims, the defense attorney, said that Griffin-El "was a drugged-out street punk at the time of the crime. He is far from that now."

While in prison, Griffin-El was teaching nonviolence to prisoners. He said Tuesday he was sorry for the anguish he caused the victims' families, adding that "I hope that maybe, if I am executed, my death will bring some healing to them."


Milton Griffin-El, 37, of St. Louis, was sentenced to die for the murder of Jerome Redden on Aug. 15, 1986. Redden, 22, and his girlfriend, Loretta Trotter, 19, were beaten, bound and stabbed in their apartment, above his family's business, the Redden Cleaning and Laundry Service. The couple's 4-month-old son, Germaine, was crying in his bed when a Redden family member discovered the bodies later that day. The relative entered the apartment because police had found the Redden Laundry van on fire just south of downtown.

Antoine Owens was convicted of Trotter's murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Griffin-El and Owens, who had dated one of Trotter's sisters, had gone to the couple's apartment to steal stereo equipment. They knocked on the door on the pretense of needing to use the bathroom.

Griffin-El admitted stabbing Redden four times and hitting him in the head with a wrench. He was found guilty of 1st-degree murder in July 1987. After the jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of the death penalty, Circuit Judge James J. Gallagher exercised his discretion to impose the sentence. Prior to the jury deadlock, Griffin-El told the court he was sorry, adding: "If there was some kind of way I could bring these 2 people back, even with execution of my life, I would do it."

Rosie Redden, Redden's mother, said it is time for the execution. Rosie Redden, 67, still operates the laundry at the same location but said she never again entered or rented out the apartment upstairs. "When I come to work, I can't even look over at that door," she said. As for Griffin-El, she said, "He took 2 lives for a robbery. He deserves to die." Redden said Germaine was placed for adoption. She said she no longer has contact with Trotter's family, who could not be reached.



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