A Cusick man could spend the rest of his life behind bars after a jury convicted him Wednesday of molesting his former granddaughter-in-law, who was killed in an unsolved stabbing six years ago.
The jury deliberated for only an hour before returning the guilty verdict against Clifford J. Grogan, 66. His victim, 6-year-old Melissa Larkin, and her mother, Samantha Bowyer, 25, were both stabbed to death Nov. 24, 2001, in their east Spokane apartment.
Bowyer was Grogan’s daughter-in-law and often cared for Melissa.
Grogan remained quiet as the verdict was read, but in the back of the courtroom, family members of the victim sobbed and held one another’s hands.
“This is the best news I’ve had in five years,” said Dawn Scalise, Melissa’s grandmother, outside the courtroom. “I’m elated, my heart’s pounding.”
The conviction is Grogan’s third strike, meaning he will now face a mandatory life sentence for committing three significant criminal offenses, his first two being other rape convictions.
Police investigators considered Grogan a suspect early on in the 2001 slayings.
Witnesses told police they saw a pickup that looked like Grogan’s Toyota in the alley behind the Bowyer’s apartment on the night of the stabbings.
But before police could check that truck for evidence, Grogan was involved in a collision with a semitruck and bled so much in the cab that investigators could not process other evidence from inside.
Grogan and his wife, Harriet Grogan, performed poorly on a lie detector test given by detectives in 2003, investigators said.
At the time, investigators did not feel they had enough evidence to bring murder charges against Grogan.
One defense attorney said Grogan will probably appeal Wednesday’s decision.