In her first television interview, Rachel Robidoux told The Today Show on Friday that her daughter Jennifer Mee – better known as the “Hiccup Girl” - “doesn’t understand the severity of what’s going on right now.”
“Does she comprehend what she’s facing now, first-degree murder charges?” Today show host Matt Lauer asked Robidoux.
“I don’t think so,” Robidoux responded. “She said the last time I saw her that she hopes she’s home for Christmas.”
Mee made national headlines in 2007 for her 5-week bout of hiccuping, which doctors later linked to her Tourette’s Syndrome.
In October, Mee, 19, was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly luring 22-year-old Shannon Griffin to his death after the two met on a social networking Web site.
Authorities say Mee’s boyfriend and another person intended to rob Griffin, but the situation spiraled out-of-control and Griffin ended up dead. He was shot four times.
Appearing with John Trevena, a criminal defense attorney representing Mee, Rachel Robidoux said Jennifer was never the same after her hiccuping episode and widepsread media exposure back in 2007. Robidoux said that although her daughter’s hiccuping stopped just as mysteriously as it began, she became withdrawn from the family and started living with friends and acquaintances at different locations, relocating every month or so.
“Kind of running with the wrong crowd,” Robidoux told Lauer.
Mee is not accused of pulling the triger. However, under Florida law, Mee could still 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.
Despite a plea from Mee’s attorney and family, a judge on Thursday ordered Mee held without bail pending her 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.
Trevena said Friday that Mee will be evaluated 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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“She has no business being on there. She’s so naive,” Robidoux said. “It just escalated.”