Man charged in woman's death committed similar 1980 murder
According to court documents, Darnell Griffin constantly harassed his victim
In 1980, Darnell Griffin harassed Lynn Marie Gherardi after she said she did not want to go out with him again, according to witnesses.
On Oct. 10, 1980, Griffin appeared unannounced at her apartment.
Three days later, Gherardi was found strangled to death in her Makiki apartment. The killer: Griffin.
Yesterday, Griffin appeared in court again, this time charged with the strangulation death of 20-year-old Evelyn Luka in September 1999. Witnesses saw Luka leave with someone from Venus Nite Club. She was found unconscious near the H-2 freeway, beaten, raped and strangled. About a month later, Luka died.
Griffin was found guilty of Gherardi's murder in December 1982 and was sentenced to life in prison. He was placed on parole in March 1996. Griffin was living in Salt Lake when the two murders occurred. At the time of Gherardi's murder, Griffin was 22 and living with his girlfriend.
A native of Chicago, he was based at Schofield Barracks for two years as an E-4 specialist.
According to court documents, at least four witnesses said Griffin constantly harassed Gherardi over the phone and made two unannounced visits to her Makiki home at 1520 Liholiho St.
Griffin wanted to go out with her, but she turned him down because of different interests and her "prejudicial attitude toward him," witnesses said.
Court-appointed attorney Bruce Masunaga represented Griffin in the 1980 case. He requested that the statements made by the witnesses be thrown out, describing them as hearsay. He said the witnesses were not present during the phone calls made to Gherardi, did not know Griffin's last name and had never met him.
There was no evidence of any physical threat, harm or injury ever being inflicted or threatened upon Gherardi by Griffin, Masunaga said in court documents.
Griffin had told police that he had gone on at least one date with Gherardi, spoke to her over the phone a few times and had been to her apartment. Police also recovered a letter written to Gherardi by Griffin dated March 25, 1980.
An 11-year-old child told police that he heard a woman scream and cry for about five to 10 minutes while he was playing in his backyard next to Gherardi's apartment about 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12. "The noises came from the house next to ours on the mauka side of our house," said the child in a written statement to police.
After the screams, it was silent, he said.
Suspect in killing goes to court
An Ewa Beach man accused in the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman made his first court appearance yesterday in Honolulu District Court.
Darnell Griffin, 48, was charged Friday in the death of Evelyn Luka, who was last seen alive in September 1999 leaving Venus Nite Club with a male companion. Her body was found left for dead about eight years ago near the Ka Uka Boulevard onramp to the H-2 freeway.
It's the first arrest Honolulu police have made in a "cold case" using DNA evidence since a 2005 law was passed requiring all convicted felons to submit samples to a national database.
DNA samples obtained last November from Griffin, who had served time and been paroled for a strangling murder in 1980, apparently matched evidence obtained earlier from Luka while she lay in a coma at the Queen's Medical Center. She had been beaten, strangled and raped.
District Judge Leslie Hayashi ordered Griffin to return tomorrow to Honolulu District Court for a preliminary hearing. He remains in custody in lieu of $5 million bail. Griffin has yet to be assigned an attorney.