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Sounds of Murder Recorded on Answering Machine Tape

February 18, 1994 GMT

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) _ A woman pleaded for her life. ″Janet, no, don’t, please 3/8″ A dog barked with increasing intensity. China or glass shattered. And then the dog whimpered softly.

The sounds, recorded on an answering machine tape, were played in a Middlesex Superior Court courtroom Thursday as prosecutors sought to show a judge they had enough evidence to try a Vermont woman for two murders. The hearing was continuing today.

Janet Griffin, 47, of Rutland, Vt., is accused of fatally shooting and stabbing Patricia Lynn Steller, 43, and Steller’s nephew, Ronald King, 26.

She is charged with two counts of murder and a count of capital felony, which is punishable by death.

Court testimony indicated that the Nov. 1 killings stemmed from a lesbian love triangle: Steller was the lover of Griffin’s ex-girlfriend.

Prosecutors say that Griffin drove to the victims’ Connecticut home with two companions, including her daughter.

The answering machine tape, taken from the victims’ home, apparently recorded some of the struggle that day. Police say they believe the murderer accidentally triggered the answering machine by cutting the telephone line.

The grisly recording begins with the sounds of a fight, punctuated by the barking of a dog.

A woman says to a companion, ″I thought you were going to help me.″

Amid crashing noises, a second woman’s voice can be heard repeatedly pleading.

″Help me ... no please ... no don’t ... don’t do it ... Janet don’t ... Janet no no Janet no no 3/8 ... Janet no don’t please.″

At the end, the woman’s pleas stop and are replaced by a low moaning, then the sound of something breaking. The dog whimpers softly.

Both Steller’s and King’s bodies were found in the kitchen of the home.

Gina Coccia, who testified Thursday, said she was Griffin’s former lover. She identified the woman pleading for mercy as Steller and the woman speaking to a companion as Griffin.

Coccia said she lived and worked with Griffin from mid-1991 until early 1993. She and Steller fell in love several months later, Coccia testified. She lived with Steller but was not at home during the slayings.

But she and Griffin continued to be friends, and she frequently brought Steller with her when she visited Griffin, Coccia testified.