Jurors convicted a New Jersey mother of all charges for murdering her 23-month-old son. Not only did Nakira M. Griner, 28, beat young Daniel Griner Jr. to death, but she dismembered his body and burned the remains, authorities have said.
Griner was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder, second-degree desecration of human remains, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, fourth-degree tampering with evidence, and second-degree false public alarm, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office announced in a statement obtained by Law&Crime.
“As part of the deliberations, the jury also found the child victim was less than 14 years of age, an aggravating factor that would require the defendant face a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment without eligibility for parole,” prosecutors wrote.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time, some three years after the crime.
On Feb. 8, 2019, Griner called 911 several times, saying a man attacked her while she was pushing Daniel in his stroller on the way to a local deli, according to a report from New Jersey news outlet The Daily Journal. She also said she had the child strapped to a holster on her chest, reportedly told cops that the attacker repeatedly kicked her while she was on the ground and then took Daniel and the stroller and ran.
In a recording of one of the 911 calls obtained by NJ.com, the dispatcher reportedly had trouble understanding a frantic Griner.
“I’m really trying to understand you, but it’s really difficult while you’re crying,” the dispatcher said. “Try to take a deep breath, slow your breathing down and tell me what’s going on so I can help you.”
“I’m hiding,” she told him.
“Who are you hiding from?” the operator asked before Griner ended the call.
The dispatcher then called back and Griner told the story about being attacked.
But defendant Griner’s story changed over time during the search for Daniel. She failed a polygraph test. Authorities searched the family’s home on Woodland Drive. Canine led investigators to Daniel’s burned and dismembered remains, which had been stuffed in his mother’s purse and buried under a backyard shed. He was burned so badly that it was difficult to immediately figure out what happened to him, a prosecutor had said.
An autopsy conducted by the county medical examiner concluded that Daniel’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. The report also noted that the child had suffered multiple bone fractures.
Griner eventually admitted that she hit Daniel because he “would not eat nor listen to her,” NJ.com reported, citing a criminal complaint document. Griner made calls from jail in which she said that Daniel sustained his injuries by falling down the stairs and that she “did what she did to him” in an effort to cover up the bruises on the boy’s body, prosecutors have said.
She rejected a plea deal. Her attorney reportedly said Griner did not “knowingly and purposefully” cause Daniel’s death.
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
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