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Man gets 13 years in prison for robbing gas station, attacking sex offender

dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A registered sex offender who was attacked in Grover Beach by a schizophrenic last year forgave his assailant at a sentencing Monday and said he would visit him in prison.

David Jordan Griffin, 25, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading no contest to robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary charges in connection with a two-day crime spree last year that targeted two men who were on the state’s sex-crime website.

Griffin’s sentence, handed down by Judge Hugh Mullin in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, included a conviction for an attack with a sledgehammer April 22, 2010, on 58-year-old Frank Lindsay. Griffin tracked down Lindsay from the Megan’s Law sex offender list.

“I forgive you, David,” Lindsay said in court, directing his comments to Griffin. “You will get better.”

Griffin came after Lindsay with the hammer after breaking into his home. Lindsay fought against him and escaped serious injury.

Lindsay and Griffin’s mother, Lea Ann Heath of Shelter Cove, also have made peace, they’ve said, and she has apologized to Lindsay for the incident.

The same day as his attack on Lindsay, Griffin went to the home of another man on the Megan’s Law sex offender list and tried to break down his door unsuccessfully while swearing at him.

A day later, on April 23, Griffin carried a machete into a Chevron at 1284 Grand Ave. and stole money and lottery tickets.

While attempting to flee, Griffin backed a car toward police, one of whom shot him in the leg.

Griffin has no prior criminal record, and his mental illness “significantly reduced his culpability for the crime,” his probation report states.

“My son was never a bad guy, never aggressive,” Heath said. “But six months before this happened, he started showing signs of paranoia. He bought into conspiracy theories.”

Heath said she didn’t know the extent of her son’s illness and encouraged him to live with his uncles in Grover Beach to have male role models and look for work in a more populated area than their isolated hometown in Humboldt County, where he was unemployed.

Griffin’s attorney, Gael G. Mueller, said that her client was seriously ill. She hopes he gets proper psychiatric treatment in prison.

“He was diagnosed as actively schizophrenic and paranoid,” Mueller said. “I see these events as all part of one episode where his brain was telling him all sorts of bizarre things.”

Mueller called Lindsay an “amazing guy” for going out of his way to meet with her client and to try to help him.

Lindsay said outside court Monday that he’ll be there for Griffin “wherever and whenever” he needs him.

Lindsay added that he has visited Griffin in County Jail several times.

“It wasn’t easy for either one of us,” Lindsay said. “When he first saw me he was definitely alarmed and had hatred in his eyes. I think it took us both awhile to get to a place where we were comfortable.”

Lindsay said leading up to the attack, one of his biggest fears was being targeted as a sex offender — a lewd act with a child under 14 that didn’t involve intercourse and which he committed more than 30 years ago.

But regardless of his efforts to keep his name off the Megan’s Law website, his fears became a reality.

“I stepped out of bounds, but I have completed my sentence conditions and probation to the court’s wishes,” Lindsay said. “I pleaded no contest with the understanding the case would be dismissed. I don’t think it’s right that I’m a potential target (on the Megan’s Law list).”

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