Vernest Griffin

Vernest Griffin (Photo: Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

Sterling Heights Man Gets Life Without Parole For Deadly Taylor Workplace Shooting

April 15, 2019 - 1:02 pm

TAYLOR (WWJ) - A Sterling Heights truck driver has been sentenced to life without parole for first degree murder in the death of a former coworker.

Vernest Griffin was also given maximum consecutive sentences for armed robbery, carjacking and weapons charges in connection with the shooting rampage last year.

WWJ's Ron Dewey reported that while Griffin, as during his trial, refused to appear in the courtroom, that didn't stop victim Keith Kitchen's sister, Margrett Kitchen, from making an impact statement on the behalf on the family.

"On February 1st, 2018, Mr. Griffin decided my brother had no rights, and he became his judge, his jury and his executioner," Margret Kitchen said. "Keith did not deserve to die in the fashion in which he did. Mr. Griffin did not murder my brother, he massacred them."

Authorities said Griffin pre-planned the shooting spree rampage, first stopping at his former employer, trucking company BSD Linehaul in Taylor, where he shot Kitchen, a Garden City resident, multiple times. 

Griffin then stole a semi-truck and fled to Pontiac where he allegedly fatally shot 58-year-old manager Eriberto Perez at Aluminum Blanking. Sheriff Mike Bouchard has said Griffin knew exactly what he was doing, walking up to a sliding glass door that was open and shooting Perez in the back with an AK-47 as he sat at his desk.

Following the Pontiac shooting, Griffin headed to a third business, Assured Carriers in Waterford, where investigators said he sought, but couldn't find, a third potential victim.

The rampage came to an end when Griffin was shot in a gun battle with Waterford police, after crashing during a chase down Dixie Highway. 

He wss convicted on all Wayne County charges last month.

Taylor police said Griffin had been fired from his job at BSD, and that he went back there one time before the shooting, armed and making threats. He was arrested and charged following that incident, police said, and was out on bond at the time of the shooting spree.

In handing down the sentence, Wayne County Circuit Judge Lawrence Talon noted just how many people suffered the consequences of Griffin’s decisions.

"Amongst the many cases that I remember, all the times through my life, I will remember Mr. Kitchen and your family and Mr. Perez and his family, and the other witnesses for the rest of my life," Talon said. 

Griffin still faces trial this summer for Perez's murder and other related crimes in Oakland County.