CROWN POINT | Graphic evidence and testimony created an emotional atmosphere Tuesday in the murder trial of Ahkeem Shakur Scott-Manna, 19, in Lake Criminal Court.
Scott-Manna, of Gary, is charged in the severe beating of Dorothy Griffin, 60, in her Gary apartment on Dec. 7, 2012, that led to her death three days later at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus after being on a ventilator.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Toth showed photos of the crime scene and of Griffin taken shortly after her death at Methodist Hospital by Sinclair Harley, a Gary crime scene investigator.
Griffin’s daughter, Charlene Franklin from Alabama, exclaimed “Oh, Jesus” and burst into tears as those photos of her mother were shown in court.
The most emotional responses — including that of the defendant — came when Lake County coroner’s forensic pathologist Dr. John Cavanaugh explained photos of Griffin’s injuries he took during her autopsy on Dec. 11, 2013.
Toth showed the photos first to defense attorney John Maksimovich for any objections. Scott-Manna refused to look at those photos that included ones of Griffin’s skull open to reveal the bleeding and swelling she suffered.
When the photos were displayed on a large screen in the courtroom for Cavanaugh to explain, various family members looked away. Some sat forward in their seats or softly cried. But Scott-Manna broke down in sobs, and the trial had to be halted.
“What say, man?” the defendant said as the jury filed out. Maksimovich tried to stop Scott-Manna from talking.
The defendant and his lawyer were taken to a separate area of the court building so Scott-Manna could get himself under control and the trial could continue.
During a videotaped interview conducted by Gary police on Dec. 12, 2012, at the Gary police station played in court, Scott-Manna said he had been smoking and drinking forms of marijuana for two days prior to the incident in Griffin’s apartment.
He also told investigators he called Griffin “Momma,” often fed him and paid him to walk her dog, a Husky named Grip.
The trial will resume Wednesday.