Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 9, 2013

Woman pleads guilty in purse-snatching

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — An Ashland woman pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from a strong-armed robbery of a 64-year-old woman last year at an Ashland medical facility.

In so doing, Heather Griffith, 23, agreed to accept a 15-year prison sentence.

Boyd Circuit Judge George W. Davis III said Griffith’s plea bargain called for her to be sentenced to 10 years for second-degree robbery and five years for tampering with physical evidence, with those terms to run consecutively, and one year for fleeing or evading police, with that sentence to be served concurrently.

Griffith was originally charged with first-degree robbery. The charge was amended downward in exchange for her guilty plea.

Griffith told Davis she wanted to waive her pre-sentencing investigation and be sentenced immediately. But Davis postponed her final sentencing until March 22 after she later said she wanted to apologize to the victim and the victim’s family. The judge said he wanted to give the victim and her family, who weren’t in the courtroom on Friday, the opportunity to be present for the apology.

 Under state sentencing guidelines, Griffith will have to serve 85 percent of her time before she can seek parole. She also has a criminal case in Carter County, and Davis said her Boyd County sentence would run consecutive with any time she receives in that case, details of which were not immediately available.

Griffith’s co-defendant, Roger C. Kittle, 30, of Ashland, earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 10 years.

Kittle and Griffith were indicted in connection with a purse-snatching on Jan. 9. 2012, in the parking lot of Ashland Children’s Clinic, 700 13th St. According to the Ashland Police Department, the victim was in the process of loading her handicapped family member’s wheelchair onto her vehicle when a woman, later identified as Griffith, ran up to her and grabbed her purse.

The victim and the suspect fell to the ground as each grappled for control of the purse, the APD said. During the struggle, a male suspect, later identified as Kittle, grabbed the purse and began pulling on it, dragging the victim along the ground.

The man was able to gain control of the purse and both suspects fled the area, the APD said. The victim, whose name was not released, was taken to King’s Daughters Medical Center for treatment.

The suspects’ images were captured by security cameras in the clinic’s parking lot. The security camera footage was widely circulated on YouTube and on social-networking websites. The APD received a large number of tips on the case based on the surveillance video.

Kittle and Griffith were arrested by the APD the day after the robbery following a brief foot pursuit on 13th Street.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.