A Fresno man is in the Fresno County Jail, accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill a lawyer from the McCormick Barstow law firm.
Antoian Griffin, 57, pleaded not guilty this month in Superior Court to a felony charge of solicitation of murder. Police contend Griffin offered to pay someone $200,000 to kill the lawyer in September this year.
Griffin is being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bail. His next court date is Wednesday.
The lawyer is identified in court papers. The Bee is not identifying him because of concern for his family’s safety.
According to an affidavit by Fresno police detective Christopher Franks, Griffin targeted the lawyer because the lawyer had represented another lawyer who once represented Griffin in a workers’ compensation lawsuit. After Griffin lost the lawsuit, he sued both lawyers, court records show.
In June, Judge Mark Snauffer dismissed the suit against the two lawyers, ruling that Griffin had no evidence to support his claim of civil conspiracy.
The target in the alleged murder plot works for McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth and specializes in personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice and other areas of civil litigation. On Monday, he declined to comment other than to ask The Bee to keep his name confidential for the safety of his family.
Franks’ affidavit gives this account:
Around 10:40 a.m. Sept. 27, a man called McCormick Barstow and told a receptionist that someone had “put a contract out” for the lawyer and was offering $200,000 to kill him. The receptionist put the caller in contact with the lawyer.
The caller told the lawyer that Griffin was looking for someone to kill the lawyer. The caller asked the lawyer not to call police because he feared Griffin would find out. The caller then hung up.
After the phone call, the lawyer contacted the Fresno Police Department. He told police that he knew Griffin from the prior court case.
The man called McCormick Barstow again on Nov. 2. “The caller specifically mentioned that (the lawyer’s ) family was in danger and then hung up,” the affidavit says.
After the lawyer notified police of the Nov. 2 call, detectives found the caller through the telephone number he had used to call McCormick Barstow. The man told police that he has known Griffin for about three years and that on Sept. 27, he went to Griffin’s home, where Griffin allegedly offered him $200,000 to kill the lawyer.
Griffin showed the man several guns that he kept in his home and offered to give him one to use in the killing, the affidavit says.
“Griffin was upset about how (his) case was handled,” the affidavit says.
Worried about the lawyer’s safety, the man left Griffin’s home and called the lawyer to warn him about “the contract” on his life.
Police close in
Using information provided by the caller, police were able to arrest Griffin on Nov. 9 and get a warrant to search his home near Fruit and Olive avenues. Inside the home, police found three shotguns, two rifles, three revolvers, a pistol and several rounds of ammunition.
Before his arrest, Griffin had only a misdemeanor conviction in 1983 for carrying a concealed weapon in public. the affidavit says.
Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts