Cameras, cell records link Minneapolis pastor to killing

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2011 - 11:23 PM

Derrick Griffin has been charged with shooting a North High staffer his estranged wife was seeing.

County Attorney Mike Freeman held a news conference Monday outside the Hennepin County Government Center.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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One of the oldest of crimes -- a killing allegedly inspired by a husband's jealousy -- was solved with the aid of sophisticated technology, according to charges filed Monday that accuse a church pastor of murdering a popular staff member at Minneapolis North High School.

Derrick Trevor Griffin, 40, was charged with second-degree intentional murder for the May 10 shooting death of Kristopher Miller, 28.

A criminal complaint says that Griffin, who was separated from his wife, watched her from his car that night as she joined Miller and others for dinner at a north Minneapolis restaurant. Minutes after Miller wished the woman well and went home, he was allegedly gunned down.

The body of Miller, a father of two and a member of North High's support staff, was found by his mother on the front steps of his apartment building in the 1100 block of Irving Av. N.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he intends to convene a grand jury to seek first-degree murder charges because the slaying was premeditated.

"Mr. Griffin's estranged wife had a relationship with the victim," Freeman said. "He had been stalking her, and he killed the man she was seeing."

There were no witnesses to the shooting.

Freeman credited the technology used to link Griffin to the crime: cell phone records, a bullet taken from Miller's body and surveillance cameras on the city's North Side.

"Ballistics, surveillance cameras, cell phone records, aggressive and competent investigation," Freeman said. "We've got a lot better technology than we ever had in the time of Dick Tracy. And we're using it every day."

Griffin, 40, an associate minister at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church, was arrested the day after the killing.

'Stalking me again'

According to charges:

Police were first called to the area around Miller's apartment building on a report of shots fired but couldn't find the source of the shots. An hour later they came back after the body was found. Residents told police that they heard two shots fired just before 11:30 p.m. Others described seeing a white Cadillac backing the wrong way on Irving toward Plymouth Avenue N.

Miller's sister told police that she and her boyfriend were with Miller and Griffin's estranged wife, Kim, at the Elks Club on Plymouth Avenue. As they left at about 11:30 p.m., Kim Griffin pointed toward a white Cadillac parked across the street from the club and said, "There is my ex-husband stalking me again," the complaint said.

The woman told police that she is still married to Griffin, although they are separated. They had argued over text messages she'd received that he interpreted as proof of an affair.

The night of the shooting, Kim Griffin said Miller walked her to her vehicle, gave her a hug and the two parted ways.

According to the complaint, a search of the Cadillac and a home occupied by a woman described as Griffin's girlfriend eventually recovered multiple handguns. A shell casing from a .38-caliber handgun matched a live round pulled from Miller's body in an autopsy. Police also recovered a tape-recorded jail conversation between Griffin and his estranged wife in which he told her not to talk to police and to "do like the attorney told you."

Griffin is in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $1 million bail. He will make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Miller is survived by two daughters, his parents and several siblings.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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