LOGAN — Glenn Howard Griffin, convicted of killing a gas station attendant more than two decades ago, saw his own life on the line as the penalty phase of his capital murder trial got under way Tuesday.
The jurors who convicted Griffin last week of killing Bradley Newell Perry in 1984 will have two choices before them when the penalty phase ends Thursday: life in prison, or death.
"It's very difficult to overstate the seriousness and the gravity of what we're starting here today," prosecutor Brad Smith said. "There's nothing happy or even satisfying about the process."
Perry's friends and family spent most of the morning recounting stories about the 22-year-old man with plans for medical school, and whose last conversation with his father was about purchasing a diamond engagement ring for his sweetheart.
Friends and family described Perry as "the peacemaker," "my protector" and "the love of my life."
He was an Eagle Scout who didn't have the heart to pull the trigger the first — and only — time he got a deer in his sights. He was the grade-schooler who stood up to kids four years his elder when they mocked his sister's polio.
In May 1984, Perry was working at a Box Elder County service station when he was killed. The case went cold for years, until Griffin was arrested and charged with murder in 2005 when DNA on a dollar bill taken from the crime scene linked him to the slaying.
Another man, Wade Garrett Maughan, has also been charged in connection with the slaying.
While friends and family regaled the jury with tales of Perry's honor, the prosecution also presented a series of witnesses in an effort to paint 51-year-old Griffin as a violent man deserving of the highest punishment.
A probation and parole employee walked through a list of Griffin's parole violations and criminal history, which included robbery, drugs and weapons charges.
Griffin's ex-wife, Jeanine Roberts, said she was forced to flee her home with her children after Griffin attacked his adopted daughter on New Year's Eve 1986.
"She was lying on the bed," Roberts said of her daughter. "He straddled her and he was beating her head."
The defense will present its side of Griffin's story during the mitigation phase Wednesday. Attorney Dee Smith said he planned to present nine witnesses in all.
Griffin's attorneys spent a modest amount of time on cross-examination Tuesday but did ask a member of Perry's family what she would like to see happen to her son's killer.
"This is a hard question to ask," defense attorney Randy Richards said to Perry's mother. "Do you want to see Glenn executed?"
"I want to see whatever the laws of the state and this jury decide," Claudia Perry replied.