Commonwealth v. Taji Rakwaan Blackston; 21 Years in Prison for Murder and Robbery of Adult, Robbery of Juvenile

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Taji Rakwaan Blackston, 20 years old, formerly of the 1400 block of Riverside Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley for Second Degree Murder, Robbery (2 counts), Attempted Robbery, Use of Firearm (3 counts), and Conspiracy (2 counts). Judge Lilley sentenced Blackston to 69 years in prison with 48 years suspended leaving 21 years to serve.

Blackston pled guilty on August 16, 2016.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence in this case would have proven that on July 30, 2014, Taji Blackston, Jahmon Blount, and a group of other individuals committed an armed robbery, then later a second armed robbery and murder, in the City of Virginia Beach. Early in the evening, Blackston and the others planned to purchase marijuana from a male juvenile.  The group arranged to meet the juvenile at City View Park.  When the juvenile arrived with his girlfriend, Blackston robbed the juvenile at gunpoint, taking his drugs, phone, and money.  Blount robbed the juvenile's girlfriend of her belongings at gunpoint. Blackston's group, including the eventual homicide victim, 24-year-old Gilbert McGriff, drove off together and met up with another male at a home in the Green Run area of Virginia Beach.

At this home, Blackston and the group made a plan to rob McGriff. McGriff was in another room at the time.  The group left the house together with McGriff in McGriff's car. McGriff had no idea he was about to be robbed.  Blackston and the others instructed McGriff to stop the car on Sierra Drive.  They all got out of the car while McGriff waited in the driver's seat.  They eventually returned to the car and ordered McGriff out at gunpoint.  They demanded his property.  McGriff grabbed for the gun being pointed at him and a struggle ensued.  One of the men in Blount's group was grazed in the face by a bullet during this struggle, and McGriff was shot in the buttocks.  The men fled, leaving McGriff bleeding out in the street.  Police responded to the scene. McGriff was able to tell them that he was shot and his gun was taken, and he died shortly thereafter at a local hospital.

Blackston was arrested on August 19, 2014, following a thorough investigation by the police department.  During an interview with detectives, Blackston confessed to his involvement. 

Blount is serving 38 years in prison for his role in the crimes.

Zabre Miller is serving eight (8) years in prison for his involvement in the earlier robbery of the juvenile, but evidence was insufficient to convict him of charges related to the murder of McGriff.

Blackston has adjudications as a juvenile for assault and a violation of probation.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald L. Harris prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.

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