Re-Trial: Quincy Man Not Guilty in Deadly Dice Game

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May 5, 2015
By Julie Montanaro

A Quincy man has his conviction thrown out and now has a not guilty verdict in a deadly dice game.

James McGriff was sent to prison for 30 years after a jury found him guilty of manslaughter in 2013.

McGriff was accused of killing Otis Harley during a backyard dice game. He claimed self defense from the start.

An appeals court last month threw out his conviction, saying the jury instructions on self defense were wrong.

Prosecutors tell us McGriff was found not guilty in a re-trial last week.

By: Julie Montanaro
October 10, 2013

James McGriff has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of Otis Harley.

McGriff was found guilty at trial last week for shooting Harley during an argument over a back yard dice game.

By: Julie Montanaro
October 3, 2013

Gadsden County, FL - A Gadsden County man - accused of shooting a man during a game of dice - was found guilty of manslaughter tonight.

James McGriff was accused of shooting Otis Harley during a game of dice back in January 2011. He contends it was self defense.

McGriff was charged with murder, but it took a jury just over two hours to reach a guilty verdict for manslaughter. His sentencing is set for October 9th.

October 3, 2013

Gadsden County, FL - The jury is now deliberating in the James McGriff murder trial, McGriff is accused of shooting Otis Harley during a dice game back in 2011.

The jury started deliberating shortly after 5pm. We'll keep you posted on a verdict.

WCTV will bring you more information as it becomes available.

By: Julie Montanaro
October 2, 2013

A deadly game of dice is at the heart of a Gadsden County murder case.

James McGriff is accused of shooting and killing Otis Harley that day just hours after greeting him with a hug.

"It got heated up real fast," Levy Bishop said when he took the stand Wednesday.

Levy Bishop says he was standing right next to Otis Harley when a backyard party - and a friendly game of dice - turned into a deadly confrontation.

Bishop testified that Otis Harley shoved James McGriff so he stepped in to try to break it up, but couldn't.

"I just turned away to walk away you know what I'm saying, took a couple of steps away pow - looked back and Otis was on the ground," Bishop said.

James McGriff is now on trial. He's accused of murder for shooting Otis Harley that day in January 2011. Harley was killed in the backyard of a friend's home on Lincoln Street in Quincy.

Terrico Daniels was there. He testified he saw McGriff with the gun but did not actually see him pull the trigger.

"What did it look like?" prosecutor Stefan Grow asked.

"A black gun...a black pistol."

McGriff's attorney told the jury Harley was the agressor.

"He was basically a bad*** ... he's violent," defense attorney Armando Garcia said.

Garcia said Harley outweighed McGriff by nearly a hundred pounds, not to mention a gun pouch around his waist.

"It was justified because Mr. McGriff was acting in self defense," Garcia said.

None of the witnesses on the stand Wednesday morning said they saw Harley with a gun that day. There wasn't a gun in the pouch they testified ... just keys, money and a cell phone.

"He may have had a bad reputation, however, as we discussed during jury selection, this does not mean that he forfeited his right to live," prosecutor Stefan Grow told the jury in his opening statements.

There is no word yet on whether McGriff will testify in his own defense. The trial is expected to continue Thursday morning.

By: Julie Montanaro
October 2, 2013, 10:15 a.m.

Quincy, FL - James McGriff is now on trial in the shooting death of Otis Harley.

Harley was shot and killed in the backyard of a home on Lincoln Street on January 30, 2011.

In opening statements, prosecutors told the jury that Harley and McGriff got into an argument over a dice game during a backyard party.

Harley pushed McGriff, prosecutors say, and another man tried to break up the fight but could not. When he walked away prosecutors say he heard a gunshot and turned to see Harley on the ground.

Harley was shot once, prosecutors say, and while others tried to administer first aid, McGriff left.

Yet defense attorneys say James McGriff acted in self defense. They contend Harley was the aggressor and weighed nearly 100 pounds more.

The defense attorney contends Harley grabbed McGriff by the face and throat and would not back down. Defense attorneys say Harley had a black pouch on with money it and a gun in it.

Defense attorneys contend Harley had a reputation for violence.

Defense attorneys contend the only witness who claims to have seen James McGriff with a gun that day changed his story on the eve of his trial in another case in hopes if avoiding a lengthy prison sentence.

The defense attorney told the jury they will have no choice but to find McGriff not guilty because the state cannot prove he did not act in self defense.

November 8, 2012

Quincy, FL- A Quincy man charged in a 2011 murder appeared in court Thursday.

James McGriff is charged in the shooting death of Otis Harley.

Quincy Police say McGriff shot and killed Harley after the two began arguing over a gambling game.

McGriff appeared in court Thursday morning. His next court date is December 9.

By: Jennifer Milton
Updated 7pm 2-12

Quincy, FL- It was a packed house at the Tabernacle Church of Christ in Gretna this afternoon as loved ones mourned the loss of 42-year-old Otis Harley.

Quincy Police say the 42-year-old was killed after getting into an argument with another man while gambling on Lincoln Street on January 30th. That's when police say 36-year-old James McGriff shot and killed him.

Police say McGriff has turned himself in to authorities.

Now, those who knew Harley, also known as "Big O", remember him before laying him to rest.

Harley leaves behind a mother, father, four children, 9 siblings and a grandchild.

McGriff's attorney says his client is not guilty and investigators are still following up on the case.

[UPDATE] 2-4 6:20pm

The manhunt for the suspect in the shooting death of a Quincy man is now over.

James McGriff has turned himself in.

Investigators had requested the help of federal marshals to look for 36-year-old James McGriff after the shooting death of Otis Harley last Sunday.

The police chief says he'd learned that McGriff wanted to turn himself in, but wasn't sure how to.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, McGriff did just that.

McGriff's attorney, Skip Hunter, said, "He wanted to come back home and turn himself in. That's why we're here this early hour to turn himself in because he's not guilty."

Escorted by his attorney, our cameras were the only ones rolling as 36-year-old James McGriff turned himself in at the Gadsden County Jail around 1:00 Friday morning.

McGriff was wanted for the shooting death of 42-year-old Otis Harley.

Quincy Police Chief Gerald McSwain said, "No resistance, no anything. Everything just went perfect."

Things weren't perfect on January 30th.

Quincy police say McGriff and Harley were arguing over a gambling game in the back yard of 546 Lincoln Street around 7pm when McGriff shot Harley.

"I don't think he deserved to die. It didn't have to end like that." Said, Harley's sister, Janice Harley.

Harley's sisters admit Harley has been in and out of trouble with the law in the past.

Janice said, "He was always one that if you pushed him, he would push back. But, he had changed so much and the community had begun to love him and respect him and see him as a different person."

Harley's sisters say he'd even been shot before. But, this time was different.

"When I found out it was fatal, it was devastating." Janice said.

McGriff's attorney says it was McGriff's own decision to turn himself in.

Harley's sister, Danyell Harley, said, "Knowing that he did turn himself in and he's not out roaming the streets or anything like that, it's a great big relief for the family."

Danyell added about her brother, "He always had a great big smile. A lot of people called him the giant bear, a teddy bear, because he was just full of love. His children loved him so much."

McGriff had his first appearance 8:00 Friday morning. The judge did not grant him bond.

Chief McSwain says investigators are still continuing to do follow-ups in this case.

[UPDATE] 10:45AM -

James McGriff had his first appearance before a judge this morning.
The judge did not grant bond.

Stay with WCTV for updates.

[UPDATE] 1:00AM -

The lead suspect in a Quincy murder case turns himself in at around 1 A.M. Friday, February 4th. Our cameras were the only ones rolling as the suspect turned himself into police custody. We'll bring you more details as they become available.

[UPDATE] 2-3 Noon -

The lead suspect in a Quincy murder case is on the run, now police are calling in reinforcement.

A manhunt is underway for 36 year old James McGriff and this picture will soon be plastered all around Gadsden County.
Quincy police investigators say he shot and killed Otis Harley this past Sunday night after a backyard gambling game gone wrong.

It happened on the 500 block of Lincoln Street in Quincy. Witnesses tell police the two men started arguing and that's when McGriff shot Harley. Police say McGriff has been on the run since Sunday night and he has residences in Gadsden County and Atlanta and they believe he may have left the area. Investigators have requested the help of federal marshals because McGriff is considered armed and dangerous. They are asking for anyone with information on McGriff's whereabouts to call authorities.

Now investigators say this is not the first time McGriff has been in trouble with the law. He's a convicted felon with a long wrap sheet.
He served time in jail in 1993 for robbery with a deadly weapon. Officers say he even escaped custody during a previous arrest.

The police chief says because of the murder and McGriff's criminal past, it is imperative to find him. Anyone with information about McGriff's whereabouts should call Quincy Police at 850-875-7335.

[UPDATE] 2-2 Noon --

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of James McGriff in the Quincy Homicide from Sunday night. He's considered armed and dangerous.

UPDATED: 1/31 at: 6:30 p.m. by: Deneige Broom

Quincy police aren't releasing many details right now about the January 30 shooting as they try to find the trigger man and bring him to justice before any more damage is done.

Neighbors have been coming and going, trying to figure out what happened at 546 Lincoln Street Sunday (1/30) night.

Even though their interest is peaked, no one was willing to talk on camera except for one woman who says this is an all too familiar situation.

"I feel nervous because I'm so close and I have a small kid," said the neighbor who didn't want to be identified.

She moved into the home a few months ago, but for the second time in less than a year, this 63-year-old woman has lived just yards away from a shooting.

This time it was a man in his forties named Otis Harley who Quincy police say, was shot in the chest in the backyard.

QPD lieutenant Larry Gilyard says Harley and their prime suspect were gambling around seven that night when the suspect got upset, shot and killed him.

Police believe Harley knew his killer and neither of the men lived at the home.

The homeowner claims he was across the street at the time of the shooting, but investigators say multiple people witnessed the incident.

QPD says they're close to issuing a warrant for the suspect's arrest, but they don't have it in hand yet.

Those aren't very comforting words for the woman who says she doesn't know how to protect the young ones around her.

"I'm thinking about, it could happen to him because one thing about a gun, guns don't know nobody. They don't have no friends."

QPD is being very tight-lipped at this point about specifics about the suspect because they say it could hurt the case.

We still don't know where they think the man may have gone but they say he could be considered armed and dangerous.

But without a picture or name, it makes it difficult for the public to be on the lookout.

We'll keep you updated as soon we're able to get some documents in hand.

Quincy Police say they plan to have an arrest warrant in hand by this afternoon for the suspect in last night's (1/30/11) fatal shooting.

Police have confirmed a homicide at 546 Lincoln around seven o'clock last night.

Officers say the victim was a black male, but they are not releasing the victim's name.

Police Lt. Larry Gilyard says the suspect and victim were gambling in the backyard of the home, when the suspected shooter got mad and opened fire. Both men were visiting and the homeowner says he was across the street at a barbecue when it happened. Right now investigators are observing the autopsy and they plan to have more information this afternoon.

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