Carolina Forest High School graduate, David Jon Houghtaling, was at the The Afterdeck nightclub with a group of his friends when he was stabbed to death on Sept. 8, 2009. As a result of the events that took place that night, both Joshua Griffith, 23, of Greenville and Blakely Kalen Brown, 27, of Columbia were arrested and charged with murder. Police records indicate that the initial arrest resulted in two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill. Police were called the nightclub at 2:52 a.m. and arrived just a few minutes later.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard announced that the teenager had passed away as the result of his injuries. The time of death was 3:39 a.m. at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
After a brief investigation, police arrested both Blakely Brown and Joshua Griffith. The charges filed against Brown include a murder charge. The charges filed against Griffith include, two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill and murder.
.Houghtaling’s friends, including Sierra Gordyk, said things progressed really fast. “Some guys were just staring them down, guys trying to be tough, I think. They were just staring at my friends. One of the guys approached Ryan, and it just broke out into a fight.”
The fight, which took place near the dance floor resulted in two of Houghtaling’s friends,
Ryan Palmer and Rob Penna, getting stabbed. Penna spent two weeks recovering from a punctured lung.
“[Houghtaling and Penna] were just trying to help their friend out,” Gordyk said. “They went into the fight to help their other friend and they just got caught in the wrong place.”
After a long and sometimes complicated trial, Griffith was found guilty of the stabbing murder and was sentenced to spend the next 30 years of his life in prison. Brown was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact of a felony and was sentenced to an 8 year prison term.
During the trial, the defense attorneys tried to argue that the stabbing was an act of self-defense, which the prosecution neatly parried.
During the trial, Prosecutor Nancy Livesay, stated her belief that the defendants hadn’t gone to the nightclub in search of a good time. “They weren’t down here to socialize,” she said of Griffith and Brown. “They were down here to start trouble.”
She also direct the jury’s attention to the fact that prior to the stabbing inside the nightclub, both Brown and Griffith attempted to start a fight outside, but didn’t succeed, that changed when they went inside and bumped into Ryan Palmer whose hand somehow got cut during the fight.
“Horrible cases like this that involve such young victims always break my heart. They’re also the reason I chose to focus my energy on personal injury law. I want to protect families who have been victimized by others and help them recover from financial setbacks triggered by incidents like this one,” said Joseph Sandefur, managing partner of Joe and Martin, a top personal injury firm with an office headquartered in Myrtle Beach.