Father gets 15 years for pot shop robbery

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 5:41 PM
Joe Griffith

Three months after his son’s sentencing for taking part in the same crime, Bayfield man Joe Riley Griffith was given 15 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections for his role in the Jan. 31 armed robbery of Rocky Mountain High dispensary in Durango.

Griffith, 44, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of a crime of violence. He and his son, Logan Griffith, were both involved in the holdup at the marijuana dispensary at 48 East Animas Road.

Authorities say Logan Griffith, 19 at the time of the crime, entered the dispensary wearing a ski-mask and carrying a semi-automatic weapon. With duct tape and zip ties, he tied up two dispensary employees and his father, originally believed by police to be a victim in the incident.

The younger Griffith fled on foot with $2,700 from the store’s safe and some marijuana, but was captured within an hour near Holly Avenue and 32nd Street. Joe Griffith was arrested two days later at his Gem Village home after police made the familial connection.

Both were former maintenance workers for The Durango Herald.

Joe Griffith was facing 10 to 15 years in prison after signing a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.

Family members asked 6th Judicial District Judge Jeffrey Wilson for leniency at Monday’s sentencing.

Joe Griffith’s older sister said the situation was a tough pill to swallow, because their father was a police officer. She pointed to her younger brother’s history with drug use and said Joe Griffith struggled to measure up to his successful older siblings. Their mother’s death was also especially difficult for the defendant, his sister said.

The defendant’s older brother assured Wilson that Joe Griffith would have a job and education once released from prison.

Public defender Christopher Trimble called the case “baffling,” arguing that his client had no prior record of any offense as severe as the robbery and that the proposed sentence was extreme.

Though his face remained blank during the sentencing, the defendant said he felt remorseful and apologized to the victims, community, court and his family for the crime and ensuing “ripple effects.”

But Wilson handed down a 15-year sentence, which had approval from the District Attorney’s Office.

“This was an upsetting event for the whole community,” Wilson told the defendant. “The victims’ fear, I think, was real. Your son had a gun with the hammer cocked, he planned to shoot and threatened to cut off fingers. I know he was an adult at the time of the incident, but you were the adult here. You had the power to stop it.”

Logan Griffith pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on a peace officer and aggravated robbery, a Class 3 felony. Wilson gave the younger Griffith six years in the Colorado Youthful Offender System, with the threat of 15 years in a Department of Corrections prison if he fails to fulfill his sentence.