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Video: ‘Hiccup Girl’s’ mom: She was in ‘wrong crowd’

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    >>> the latest on the murder case of the so called hiccup girl jennifer mee. her mother speaks out for the first time since her arrest.

    >> reporter: nearly three weeks after her arrest, jennifer mee is still in jail having nailed in her recent attempt to get out on bond. among those opposing her release was the victim's family. jennifer mee who became known three years ago as the hiccup girl went to court hoping to get out of jail on bond.

    >> i would point out that miss mee poses absolutely no risk of flight.

    >> reporter: and once again jennifer mee was hiccupping.

    >> there's been no evidence presented that she has in her possession either the resources or the ability to flee.

    >> reporter: mee and two young men are charged with first-degree murder for the death of 20-year-old shannon griffin. police say mee met him online and lured him to this house to be robbed. but when a scuffle broke out, griffin was shot and killed. police do not believe she was involved in the shooting, but under florida law , she is --

    >> she has absolutely no prior criminal history of any kind, juvenile or otherwise.

    >> reporter: but the victim's family opposed that.

    >> it's just wrong, it's wrong, your honor.

    >> reporter: on the day his cousin died, he was thrilled to have met a girl on line.

    >> he was about to go on a date, he was happy as he could be.

    >> reporter: me e suggests the same illness that caused to -- but the judge had his own concerns.

    >> the family is saying now they can control her when the evidence suggests they have been unable to do so to date.

    >> reporter: he then denied the bond request, leaving jennifer mee in jail. jennifer mee's lawyer says she's now being treated for the return of her hiccups.

    >> jennifer mee's mother is with us along with jennifer 's attorney is here, good morning to both of you. have you seen jennifer ?

    >> i have.

    >> how is she doing?

    >> she's holding up.

    >> you said in the piece what she has developmental issues and doesn't comprehend things at her grade level . does she comprehend what she's facing now, first-degree murder charges?

    >> i don't think so. she said the last time i saw her that she hopes she's home for christmas . she doesn't understand the severity of what's going on right now.

    >> we remember your daughter from her several appearances here on the "today" show when she had this case of hiccups that wouldn't go away, we thought of her as a young, innocent, somewhat shy little girl . take me back to the moment you heart the news that she had been arrested on these charges. what was your reaction?

    >> definite state of shock , it was a nightmare.

    >> a state of shock , however, we do need to mention that in the years since jennifer appeared on this show, she had experienced some troubles. she had not led a perfect life even after the hiccups went away. describe for me some of the things she had been through.

    >> she was living different places. she always had a roof over her head.

    >> but she lived a transient lifestyle?

    >> she would stay at one place for a couple of months and another place for a couple of months and she was running with the wrong crowd.

    >> the kind of crowd that would be capable of getting into the kind of trouble she's in?

    >> john, it's a possibility you say that she had been diagnosed with tourette 's syndrome after the episode with the hiccups. is it true that you may actually use tourette 's as a possible defense in this case?

    >> certainly to the extent that it is a mitigating factor , we're going to have her examined, a whole battery of neuro and psychiatric type tests need to be conducted. but it's going to be relevant, to the extent, i can't say now, b but tourette 's is --

    >> in truth the diagnosis of tour rhett's syndrome in a legal offender is no more a reason for or an excuse for such offense other than medical diagnoses. such as asthma or rheumatism. scientifically there is no evidence of causal relationship between having tourette 's and committing a crime.

    >> for example, if a young lady is pregnant at the time of the sentencing in her case, that's a factor that the court's going to consider. that doesn't mean that pregnant women are killers, it just means that it's an issue that's taken into consideration. tourette 's we believe in this case, not only explains the hiccups, but also could explain some of her poor judgment.

    >> you mentioned rachel, after this incident occurred that when it came to that case of hiccups with jennifer , you said it was the curse of the hiccups, not the case of the hiccups, what do you mean by that.

    >> i kind of felt like she was more and more trying to withdraw from myself and her siblings and wanting to go out and do her own things, getting on the social sites, she had no business being on there, she's so naive, and it just escalated.

    >> i'm going to follow this case and see what happens with jennifer .

By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/12/2010 9:37:47 AM ET 2010-11-12T14:37:47

In an exclusive TODAY interview Friday, Rachel Robidoux said her daughter Jennifer Mee, the “Hiccup Girl” charged with first-degree murder for luring a man to his death, “doesn’t understand the severity of what’s going on right now.”

“Does she comprehend what she’s facing now, first-degree murder charges?” anchor Matt Lauer asked Robidoux.

“I don’t think so,” Robidoux replied. “She said the last time I saw her that she hopes she’s home for Christmas.”

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There is virtually no chance of that occurring. Despite a plea from Mee’s attorney and family, on Thursday a state judge ordered Mee’s continued detention without bail pending trial. “The family is saying now they can control her, when the evidence suggests they have been unable to do so to date,” Judge Donald Horrox said from the bench.

In October, Mee was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Shannon Griffin, a 22-year-old man she met on a social networking website that police have yet to publicly identify. Police say Mee lured Griffin, who believed he was going on a date, to a vacant home. Mee’s boyfriend and another alleged accomplice intended to rob Griffin, but things went awry and instead Griffin ended up dead, police said.

‘Wrong crowd’
Mee, 19, of St. Petersburg, Fla., made national headlines in 2007 when the media dubbed her “Hiccup Girl” because of a five-week bout with hiccuping the doctors eventually linked to Tourette syndrome. The inherited disorder, usually seen in people under the age of 18, is characterized by uncontrollable tics.

Video: ‘Hiccup Girl’s’ mom: She was in ‘wrong crowd’ (on this page)

Appearing with John Trevena, a criminal defense attorney representing Mee, Robidoux said her daughter was never the same after her hiccuping episode and media exposure in 2007. Although her hiccuping disappeared just as mysteriously as it began, Mee became withdrawn from the family and started living with friends and acquaintances at different locations, relocating every month or so, he mother said.

“Kind of running with the wrong crowd,” Robidoux told Lauer.

Image: Jennifer Mee
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Jennifer Mee allegedly met Shannon Griffin online and lured him to a vacant home across the street from her apartment building, where two of her friends shot him four times.

Trevena said the neuropsychiatric disorder that may be responsible for Mee’s hiccupping — which recurred in court during her bond hearing earlier this month — will almost definitely be a factor if the first-degree murder case against her goes to trial, though it won’t be offered as an excuse.

“I think it is going to be relevant. The extent — I cannot say now, it’s far too early,” Trevena said. “Certainly … it is a mitigating factor.”

Mee is not accused of shooting Griffin. Under Florida law, however, she could face life in prison if prosecutors can establish that Griffin was killed during the commission of a robbery and that Mee helped plan and execute it.

Video: Victim was thrilled to date ‘Hiccup Girl’ (on this page)
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Tourette’s defense?
Trevena said Friday that Mee will be evaluated extensively by experts — just in case prosecutors are not willing to acknowledge her limited role in Griffin’s death and do not offer a plea bargain she can live with.

Video: ‘Hiccup Girl’ lured victim online, cop says (on this page)

“Just from what I’ve learned so far, Tourette’s is usually accompanied often with other mental health issues,” Trevena told Lauer.

In a statement Lauer read to Trevena, the medical advisory board of the National Tourette Syndrome Association took issue with any defense based on the disorder.

Video: ‘Hiccup Girl’ charged with murder (on this page)

“In truth, the diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome in a legal offender is no more the reason for, or an excuse of such offense than other medical diagnoses — such as asthmas or rheumatism,” the association wrote. “Scientifically, there is no evidence of a causal relationship between having Tourette’s Syndrome and criminal behavior.”

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Trevena did not contest the group’s position. He said Tourette syndrome might be offered as a mitigating factor, not an affirmative defense.

“I think as to pure causality, that’s an accurate statement … Tourette’s, we believe in this case, not only explains the hiccups, but also explains some of her poor judgment,” the attorney said.

Video: ‘Hiccup Girl’ finally gets rid of hiccups (on this page)

Rachel Robidoux said Mee exhibited other signs of developmental issues growing up. After the hiccuping episode of 2007, Mee’s judgment got worse; she became withdrawn and spent more and more time alone visiting social networking websites on the Internet, Robidoux said.

“She has no business being on there. She’s so naive,” Robidoux said. “It just escalated.”

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