A 16-year-old admitted drug dealer calmly told jurors Wednesday that he watched John Mosley Jr. strangle a woman, but he broke into sobs when describing holding open a plastic bag while the man stuffed her screaming baby into it.
Bernard Griffin's testimony came on the opening day of Mosley's trial on two charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of 40-year-old Lynda Wilkes and her 10-month-old son, Jay-Quan Mosley.
Assistant State Attorney Libby Senterfitt told jurors in an opening statement that Mosley strangled the woman and suffocated her baby to avoid an upcoming hearing to determine if he was the infant's father. Prosecutors want the death penalty.
Griffin said when Mosley picked him up on April 22, 2004, Wilkes and her baby were in the passenger seat of Mosley's SUV.
The teenager, dressed in brown prison clothes and shackled at his hands and feet, said Mosley drove to a deserted area, told the woman to get out of the car and then strangled her with his hands.
"She was trying to defend herself. She was scratching," Griffin said. "Then she stopped moving."
Griffin said he just sat there as Wilkes was killed.
"I've never seen nothing like that before," he said.
The teenager testified Mosley put a bag over Wilkes head and placed her in the rear of the SUV.
Griffin said Mosley asked him to get a black plastic garbage bag and hold it open. The screaming baby was placed in the bag, which was tied and placed next to his mother's body.
At that point in his account, Griffin buried his head in his hands for several seconds.
Griffin was asked why he didn't go to the police
"I didn't know what he was capable of doing," Griffin said of Mosley. "I didn't want to jeopardize my family."
Griffin also said he helped Mosley dispose of Wilkes' body near Waldo, about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville, where Mosley set it afire. He testified that the baby's body was placed in a trash bin in Ocala. That information caused investigators to spend several days digging through a landfill in Valdosta, Ga., but the baby's body was never found.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Richard Kuritz, Griffin acknowledged selling drugs, which he said he was doing to help his mother pay the bills.
The young witness reversed himself Wednesday and said he was lying or not telling the entire story during his first talks with police detectives.
"I didn't know who to trust," he said.
Griffin, who faces two charges of being an accessory after the fact, said he had not made any deals with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.
Thursday morning , Medical Examiner Margarita Arruza showed the jury photos of the burned remains of Linda Wilkes and acknowledged under cross-examination that there was no way to tell how she died.
Prosecutors said they will connect Mosley to the slaying by blood found in the back of his car, cell phone records, which allowed them to follow his movements on the day of the slayings, and Griffin's testimony.