Shooter sentenced to 42 years

“The agony never ends,” said the mother of a slain Ramona Kmart security guard at the sentencing of the killer, who received 42-years-to-life in prison on April 10.

Before a packed courtroom, Jeroldean Busby, mother of David Busby II, 32, told El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos of her continuing grief over the shooting death that occurred on July 21, 2007. Andrew Griffith, 30, killed Busby on his parents’ anniversary,  said the victim’s sister.

Griffith was ordered to pay restitution of $8,000, which represents the cost of Busby’s funeral, and a $400 fine. Exarhos gave Griffith, of Scripps Ranch, credit for already serving 630 days in jail since the shooting that shocked the community.

David Busby, a sailor who lived in Julian with his wife and 15-month-old son, was moonlighting at Kmart so he could help support his family. His widow, Lauren Busby, and the victim’s sister also described their sadness and how it affected them today.

Jeroldean Busby flew in from the small town of Washington, Kansas, to attend the sentencing, as did other family members. She said there were no words that were adequate to describe her sorrow, and the passage of time does not lessen her grief.

“I question God at every turn,” said the mother. “I cry every day for David.”

“I read in the newspaper that (Griffith) took $86 worth of stuff (out of the store). What could be so valuable about that stuff out of Kmart (that results) in the death of my son? It’s ludicrous!” said Jeroldean Busby. “...The devastation he has put my family through! He deserves the same fate as my son — death,” said Jeroldean Busby. “May God forgive you as I may never be able to.”

Dava Butler, the victim’s sister who flew in from Mayflower, Ark., told the judge the murder took place on the exact day her parents were married. She said her mother cries just seeing the picture of her son.

“You have caused my nephew to grow up not knowing his father,” said Butler to Griffith. “I miss my brother more and more every day. I blame you for my emptiness.”

“You took a good man from his family. What will you be remembered for...other than causing hurt?” asked Butler.

“A 3-year-old should not know what a cemetery is,” said Lauren Busby, the victim’s widow, who told Griffith she was saddened that her son will never get to know his father.

“I don’t feel any sympathy for your family because they will still have you. I’ve attended every hearing, and you don’t seem to have remorse,” said Lauren Busby.

“If you were remorseful, you would have pleaded guilty earlier. I will never forget the day you turned our lives upside down, and I will never forgive you,” said Lauren Busby.

She contrasted her husband’s accomplishments with Griffith’s record, saying “my husband is a hero...He wanted to be a great dad since the day I met him.”        

 Deputy District Attorney Gordon Davis said Griffith may become eligible for parole in 2049, when he is 72 years old.

Griffith said nothing in court and defense attorney Knut Johnson did not call any witnesses to speak. Griffith’s parents were believed present but they made no comments.

“He knows what he did was wrong. He’s a very severe mentally ill person,” said Johnson.

Johnson asked Exarhos to commit Griffith to a state mental hospital, but the judge denied it. Griffith  withdrew his insanity plea on March 13 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and to assault with a deadly weapon upon a second guard, Finauga “Fred” Tili.

The judge imposed 15-years-to-life for second-degree murder, and a consecutive 25-year term for using a gun in a homicide.

Exarhos also sentenced Griffith to two years consecutively for the assault on Tili.

Griffith also pleaded guilty to battery with serious injury to Steven Lowe, 34, in a previous incident in which Griffith slashed the homeless man’s arm with a sword in a Ramona riverbed on June 15, 2007.

Exarhos gave a concurrent three-year term for that offense, saying the 42-year term is the “sentence agreed upon” by all parties, including Griffith.

Shocked by the crime, the community and businesses in Ramona rallied and contributed to a memorial fund that went to Busby’s wife and son. Busby was a First Class petty officer who participated in several deployments to the Middle East at sea including Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He had won medals, including one for saving another sailor from drowning.

   
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