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remember the Kim Medlin murder?
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Join Date: Jan 2003
remember the Kim Medlin murder?
Ex-policeman confesses in '97 murder
Former officer had sworn innocence even after conviction
MELISSA MANWARE & GARY WRIGHT
Former Monroe police officer Josh Griffin, imprisoned for life for the murder of Kim Medlin, has confessed to killing the 26-year-old Union County woman, the Observer has learned.
Three years after he was convicted of the brutal murder that he vehemently denied, Griffin told an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation that he killed Medlin, according to former Union County District Attorney Ken Honeycutt and former Monroe Police Chief Bobby Haulk.
But Griffin said that the slaying occurred while drug dealers were holding him at gunpoint, and that another police officer was involved in the killing.
The SBI investigated and found no truth to his claims about the drug dealers or the other officer, Honeycutt said. Griffin's account of the slaying, though, answered some lingering questions about what happened the night Medlin was killed in 1997.
"He just cooked up a story," said Honeycutt, who has a transcript of what Griffin told the agent. "The statement was essentially a confession to the murder. He just minimized his actions."
The abduction and slaying of the young cocktail waitress and the arrest of the small-town police officer captivated the Charlotte region and divided the Union County town. Many believed Griffin was innocent. Even after he was convicted, some refused to believe his guilt.
Moments after being sentenced for first-degree murder, Griffin turned to Medlin's family and proclaimed his innocence: "I didn't kill your daughter," he said.
Kim Medlin disappeared March 29, 1997, about 3 a.m., while driving home from her waitress job at The Men's Club in Charlotte. Her red Jeep was found about 4 a.m., pulled to the side of Old Charlotte Highway in Monroe. The engine was idling and the lights burning. Her purse and cash were on the seat, but she and her driver's license were missing.Medlin's body was found the next day in a field at the end of a deserted cul-de-sac. She had been strangled and her neck was broken.
Griffin was arrested two months later. Prosecutors portrayed him as a stalker who had seen Medlin months earlier and commented on her good looks.
They accused him of using his badge and cruiser to stop her, then driving her to deserted Westwood Industrial Drive. When she tried to flee, they said, he hit her, strangled her and stomped her to death. On the back of her sweat shirt investigators found shoeprints.
In the confession, Honeycutt said, Griffin admitted the shoeprints were his. He also said he threw his boots in a trash bin behind a K-Mart, and cut up Medlin's license and flushed it down a toilet -- evidence investigators never found.
"The bottom line is he did admit he killed her by stomping her in the back," Honeycutt said.
Haulk, who retired last fall, said Honeycutt told him and others about the SBI investigation and confession, which was made in 2001, but swore them to secrecy. Officials were afraid going public would hurt their case if it had to be retried.
The SBI on Wednesday would only say its agents conducted interviews based on statements made by Griffin after he was convicted.
Griffin, 32, is locked up at the Hoke Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison near Raeford, west of Fayetteville. He declined to talk to the Observer for this story.
`A little more closure'
In his confession, Griffin claimed he owed drug dealers money for steroids and was told he could pay the debt by stopping Medlin in her Jeep and turning her over to them, Honeycutt said. Griffin said he stopped her, and then killed her while the drug dealers were holding them at gunpoint. But Griffin was unable to describe the drug dealers.
"He basically said one was kind of average looking and the other sort of ordinary looking," Honeycutt said. "Not too tall, not too short, kind of average. That's not the way police officers are trained to describe people."
Honeycutt also said Griffin claimed another police officer took part in Medlin's killing.
Haulk and Honeycutt said that officer had an alibi. The SBI again interviewed him, they said, and he took -- and passed -- a polygraph.
"We had solid evidence of where this officer was," Honeycutt said.
Retired Sgt. Sonny Rogers told the Observer on Wednesday he was the one Griffin fingered.
Rogers said SBI agents interviewed him for two hours and had checked records for calls made on every cell phone he'd ever owned. Rogers, who now works as a pastor, said he asked to take the lie-detector test.
Rogers said he wasn't angry at Griffin for trying to implicate him. He couldn't ever be more angry, he said, than he was when he learned a Monroe police officer had committed the murder.
"He helped us bring a little more closure," Rogers said about the confession. "I always thought the license was in sewage but I didn't know where the shoes were."
Honeycutt, Rogers and Haulk believe Griffin was the only one involved in Medlin's killing.
"We put on over 50 witnesses and over 200 pieces of evidence," Honeycutt said. "We proved not only that he did it. We proved that nobody else did it."
`I believed him'
Bridger Medlin, Kim Medlin's widower, has known about the confession for several years but said it's not important to him.
"I'm glad for his conscience that he can finally admit to it. But we -- the family of Kim Medlin -- knew it," he said. "The only ones this may help are those who lack rational thought and question whether he is guilty. There will be no doubt now."
Griffin's defense lawyers, Harold Bender and Kevin Barnett, said they were shocked, and question why the former cop would confess. They did not know about the confession before the Observer contacted them.
"If Josh said that and confessed, that's a far cry from what he told us," Barnett said. "He told us he had nothing to do with her death. He was steadfast in his assertion that he had no involvement in her death. And I believed him."
"Why would he confess after all these years? Why now? Maybe he's trying to clear his conscience. I don't know."
Bender said: "If Josh Griffin killed Kim Medlin, I would have thought he'd have taken that secret to his grave."
Melissa Manware: (704) 358-5041; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Bacon....dead man walking