TEXARKANA, Texas — An appellate court in Texarkana affirmed Friday the sentence of life plus 80 years given a woman who sold a young relative who looked up to her into a life of prostitution.
Della Lou Griffin, 53, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault of a child and a single count of aggravated sexual assault of a child but asked that a jury assess her punishment. The jury sentenced Griffin to a maximum life term on the aggravated charge and maximum 20-year terms on each of the four counts of sexual assault.
The terms were ordered to run consecutively by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell.
The 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana issued an opinion Friday affirming Griffin’s sentences. The opinion notes that Griffin’s appellate counsel filed a brief indicating that no grounds for appeal exist. The higher court’s opinion states that after an “independent review” of the case and trial transcript, it too found nothing on which to base an appeal of Griffin’s sentence.
Griffin came to the attention of authorities during a human trafficking investigation that led to a court-authorized search of a house in April 2018 on Meadow Lane in New Boston, Texas. Texas Department of Public Safety investigators were looking for evidence in a case involving the home’s owner, John Littleton.
Littleton died before he could face trial on charges of child sexual abuse and human trafficking. Littleton’s roommate, Charles Garton, 40, is currently serving a 160-year term for sexual abuse involving a 12-year-old. Another defendant, Kenneth Nelson, is serving five life sentences for human trafficking involving teen girls he traded cash and drugs for sex.
While searching Littleton’s home, investigators discovered a videocassette tape labeled with a girl’s name. The tape contained multiple recordings of Littleton sexually assaulting an underage girl whom investigators were able to identify and interview.
Officers were able to date one of the recordings because a news report, playing in the background, announced that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson. That news was made public in January 1996, more than 23 years ago.
The woman, who was a 14-year-old girl when the recordings were made with Littleton, told investigators Littleton began molesting her when she was 11 after she was introduced to him by Griffin. Griffin is seen in some of the recordings and was operating the camera. At trial, Griffin’s victim, now in her late 30s, testified she was 11 or 12 when her favorite relative gave her a bubble bath, dressed her provocatively and took her to a motel room in New Boston where Littleton was waiting.
The woman told investigators Griffin often drove her to local motels and other locations where Littleton would pay Griffin so he could have sex with the girl. The woman reported that she was often given alcohol and drugs before and during the encounters.
Griffin is currently being held in the Hobby Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Marlin, Texas.