UPPER MARLBORO — Following an acquittal by a Prince George’s County jury on Dec. 20 after being accused of setting his pregnant girlfriend on fire back in September 2017 and jailed for a year and a half for the crime, Laquinn Phillips spoke out during a press conference on Friday, Dec. 21.
With his lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon, and co-counsel Stephen Thomas, Phillips answered questions in Upper Marlboro the day after the jury acquitted him of all charges relating to the attack on Andrea Grinage and their unborn child.
He expressed his gratitude for having his case dropped and spoke about what he had been through over the last year and a half and what is next for him.
“I’ve never done it,” Phillips said during the press conference. “There was never a doubt in my lawyer’s mind (s), in my mind, in my family’s mind. Anyone that knows me knows what I am and what I stand for as a man. Without a doubt, I don’t have to ask myself if I didn’t do it because I know I didn’t do it.”
Meanwhile, Grinage held her own press conference on the same day as Phillips to defend her story and expressed that she continues to fear for herself and her children now that Phillips has been let out of jail.
“I believe if he was to ever come in contact with me and my daughter that he would try to harm us again…What about me? What about my safety and my family and my children?”
Phillips was arrested on Sept. 8, 2017, for allegedly setting Grinage on fire in her second-floor apartment in Capitol Heights.
The lawsuit claimed that he first choked her until she passed out then when she woke up forced her into a bathtub to clean up, poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire.
Grinage ran out of the apartment, was taken to the hospital in critical condition suffering burns on 90 percent of her body and was forced to deliver the baby, who she named Journey, through a c-section at only 33 weeks. However, she and the baby survived and were able to make a full recovery.
Since then, Phillips was held without bond as he faced a sentence of double life imprisonment plus 150 years for the crime. He had already been accused of violence against Grinage in the past as she had filed a protective order against him in September 2016.
“It was frustrating, especially knowing you were wrongfully accused of something you didn’t do,” Phillips said. “So it was a lot of mixed feelings, a lot of emotions and things of that nature. I withstood my innocence, and I trusted in God who placed this great lawyer in my path, and I knew that we would prosper.”
The jury decided to drop all charges against Phillips because they felt that the evidence presented, such as a lack of gasoline found on his clothes or a lighter of some sort found on the scene to start the fire did not point to him as the perpetrator of the crime.
Following the court decision, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy weighed in on the situation in a statement commenting that she did not believe that the jury made the correct decision in the case, but the verdict of the jury was final and must be respected.
“While we are very disappointed in the verdict, we respect the judicial process and the jury’s responsibility to deliberate and formulate a verdict,” Braveboy said immediately after Friday’s court proceedings. “Our prayers and our thoughts are with Ms. Grinage and baby Journey, and we know that the real victory is that baby Journey was born healthy and is thriving.
“We understand that the judicial process does not always meet our expectations when seeking justice, but that doesn’t mean we don’t seek justice,” Braveboy said. “Despite the outcome, I want to thank the attorneys involved in this case for the hard work and the long hours put into it, and we will continue to seek justice on behalf of victims of domestic violence in our community.”
Phillips’ lawyer claimed that Grinage made up the story that he set her on fire and that the evidence suggests she may have been burned by herself or engaged in reckless behavior to frame him due to her jealousy over his current fiancée. They also insist that Phillips has never admitted to being in her apartment on the day in question, although he admitted to being around the area.
“Anybody that knows me knows that I would never set myself on fire and how much I looked forward to my baby girl being born,” Grinage said. “He was in a love triangle, and he made his choice, and he decided to end me and my daughter’s life and he wasn’t successful.”
Gordon said that Grinage continuing to say that Phillips committed the crime is defamatory and slanderous. He claimed that Grinage has been trying to capitalize off her victimhood by accepting benefits and Go Fund Me donations as well as being courted by special interest groups to promote domestic violence in the community.
“Those causes are noble causes, and we feel for any true victim of domestic violence,” he said. “In this case, Andrea Grinage was not a victim; the victim was the beautiful child and my client. These are the two victims, and these are the only victims that should be acknowledged in this case.”
Going forward, the Prince George’s County Circuit Court has closed the case regarding Phillips’ involvement and Gordon said they do not plan on filing any charges against Grinage claiming defamation. Instead, they will “try to mend these broken fences the best way we can” in the best interests of the child. Phillips intends to be involved in Journey’s life. However, Grinage has applied for a protective order against him and for sole custody of her daughter.