Parents indicted on murder charges

A Towson couple charged with child abuse late last year in the death of their 2-year-old son were indicted yesterday on first-degree murder charges.

Murder charges were filed against John J. Griffin and Susan Griffin of Rodgers Forge after a state medical examiner determined that the toddler died of starvation, said Baltimore County prosecutor Robin S. Coffin.The couple's son, Andrew Patrick Griffin, weighed about 13 pounds -- roughly the weight of a typical 3-month-old -- when he died Dec. 26 at St. Joseph Medical Center.

When the boy's father brought him to the hospital, he was "cold to the touch and unresponsive," according to court documents. His body was covered with bruises and abrasions, and he appeared malnourished and dehydrated.

John Griffin, 39, and Susan Griffin, 38, were charged with child abuse after emergency room doctors found Andrew's injuries suspicious and police found what they believed was blood on clothes, walls and the ceiling of the couple's bedroom.

A grand jury indicted them yesterday on one count each of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse that resulted in death.

"It's a horrible case," said Coffin, a deputy state's attorney for Baltimore County. "It's really tragic."

Joseph Murtha, an attorney for the child's father, said that he had not yet seen the autopsy report but that the case is headed for trial.

"I anticipate that the allegations will be resolved by 12 people making a decision," he said, alluding to jury deliberations. "The state obviously controls the charging decisions, but the ultimate outcome will be determined by some other individuals."

Attempts to reach the lawyer representing Susan Griffin were unsuccessful yesterday.

John Griffin, a computer systems engineer, is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $1.5 million bail. His wife, a stay-at-home mother, is being held on $1 million bail.

The couple have four other children, who were 10, 9, 4 and 1 at the time of Andrew's death. Authorities said at the time of the couple's arrest that the siblings were divided between relatives and foster care.

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