As quickly as the person wielding a shotgun came to the door of a Pierpont Avenue home in 2011 and fired shots that killed a 5-year-old girl, that person disappeared into the darkness of the West Ashley night.
Oct. 22, 2011: 1751 Dogwood Road home invasion, shotgun used in break-in.Oct. 25, 2011: 5-year-old Allison Griffor shot with shotgun while sleeping in bed at 1733 Pierpont Ave.Oct. 26, 2011: Devoun Bennett arrested for the Dogwood Road home invasion.Oct. 27, 2011: Parents William and Jennifer Griffor face the agonizing decision to take Allison off life-support after brain scans showed no activity. They donated their daughter’s organs to honor her loving spirit. Soon afterward, the Griffors take their two surviving children back to their home state of Michigan.Oct. 28, 2011: Philip Moses arrested and charged in the Dogwood Road home invasion. Also this day, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon vows to catch the “scumbag” who killed Allison.Oct. 29, 2011: A judge sets a $125,000 surety bail for Moses for the charges in the Dogwood Road home invasion.June 15, 2012: Bond reconsideration request for Moses denied by a judge.Oct. 25, 2012: One-year anniversary of Allison’s shooting. Cannon reiterates that investigators think some of the people responsible already are in jail.April 24, 2013: Bennett pleads guilty to second-degree burglary and armed robbery for Dogwood Road home invasion. He is sentenced to 20 years.
The identities of the gunman and possible accomplices have been shrouded in mystery nearly a year and a half since Allison Griffor died.
On Wednesday, the name of a potential suspect involved in the case came to light for the first time when a prosecutor pointed the finger at a Charleston man already jailed in connection with another crime.
That man is Philip Moses, 24, of Charleston, who is charged with a home invasion that took place on Dogwood Road on Oct. 22, 2011, a few streets over and three days before Allison was killed.
Moses has not gone to trial to face the Dogwood Road home invasion charges, which include armed robbery and burglary. One of his co-defendants in that case, Devoun Bennett, 19, of Charleston, was in court Wednesday and pleaded guilty to his involvement in that break-in.
During Bennett’s plea hearing, 9th Circuit Chief Deputy Solicitor Bruce Durant named Moses as a potential suspect in Allison’s murder. “We believe Mr. Moses was involved in the Griffor case,” Durant said in a downtown Charleston circuit courtroom.
Durant also said prosecutors don’t believe Bennett was involved in Allison’s shooting, but that they hoped he could shed some light on Moses. Instead, Bennett pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and armed robbery for his role in the Dogwood Road break-in and offered no insight into Moses.
Investigators said Bennett, Moses and two other men forced their way inside the Dogwood Road apartment. The men were armed and one of them had a shotgun, Durant said.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon would not answer specific questions about Moses and his possible involvement in the Griffor case. Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Stanley said the case is still an active investigation.
“We have nothing to add,” Stanley said. “Even though it was said in open court, it doesn’t change anything we’re doing at this point. We’re still following up on all leads.”
William Waring, a court-appointed attorney representing Moses in the Dogwood Road home invasion case, said he is not involved in the Griffor case and had no knowledge of it.
In court, Bennett’s attorney, Leslie Sarji, said prosecutors offered a possible deal to Bennett, called a proffer, in exchange for information on Moses, but Bennett was scared and didn’t talk. “He was fearful he will always be looking over his shoulder,” Sarji said in court.
Circuit Judge Roger Young sentenced Bennett to 20 years in prison with credit for the 547 days he has spent in jail. Bennett’s attorney had asked for the mandatory minimum of 10 years.
“The community can’t stand this anymore,” Young said about home invasions. “I don’t know what you were thinking.”
Bennett did not say much during the hearing. “I was with the wrong people at the wrong time,” he told the judge about his role in the Dogwood break-in.
After the hearing, Durant would not get into further specifics about Moses or any deals his office tried to make with Bennett. “We made an effort to get him to cooperate,” Durant said about Bennett.
Not intended target
The front door of the Griffors’ home on Pierpont Avenue was kicked in at about 1 a.m. on Oct. 25, 2011. As Allison’s father, William, walked toward the door, the intruder fired a shotgun into the house, according to authorities.
Several buckshot pellets went through the door and a wall into the room where Allison slept. She was hit in the head in the room she shared with her two brothers. She died two days later at Medical University Hospital.
Investigators have indicated that they believe Allison was not an intended target, and said they think those involved in the shooting mistakenly believed there were drugs at the home.
William and Jennifer Griffor took their two surviving children back to their home state of Michigan soon after the attack.
Cannon previously indicated that his investigators believe they know who is involved, and that some of those people are behind bars for other crimes.
Three days earlier, the four men including Bennett and Moses forced their way into the apartment on Dogwood and took cash, an iPod and 7 grams of marijuana, reports said. That crime also involved a shotgun, authorities said.
The victim didn’t report the crime at first out of fear for his own safety, Durant said during Bennett’s plea hearing Wednesday.
But when the victim learned of Allison’s death, just days later and blocks away, he called police because he recognized similarities between the two crimes, according to prosecutors.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
Allison Griffor was struck in the head with buckshot pellets during a home invasion. She died two days later.×
Philip Moses, 24, of Charleston, has been named as a potential suspect in the 2011 killing of 5-year-old Allison Griffor.×
Soon after the shooting, fingerprint dust covered the door of the home at 1733 Pierpont Ave. in West Ashley, where Allison Griffor was fatally wounded early on Oct. 25, 2011.×
About 50 residents of the Pierpont neighborhood in West Ashley gathered on Oct. 25 to mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Allison Griffor.×