Virginia Beach man sentenced to 21 years for role in 2014 murder and robbery

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Taji Rakwaan Blackston, 20, will spend 21 years in prison for his role in the shooting-death of Gilbert McGriff. (Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)
Taji Rakwaan Blackston, 20, will spend 21 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of Gilbert McGriff. (Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

A 20-year-old Virginia Beach man will spend 21 years in prison for his role in the murder of another man during a robbery.

Taji Rakwaan Blackston, of the 1400 block of Riverside Drive, was sentenced Wednesday to 69 years in prison with 48 suspended by Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley.

Blackston was arrested on Aug. 19, 2014, and pleaded guilty about two years later to second-degree murder, attempted robbery, three counts of use of a firearm, two counts of conspiracy and two counts of robbery, according to a Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s news release.

Gilbert McGriff, 24, died on July 30, 2014 after he was shot while being robbed by a group of people that included Blackston and another man named Jahmon Markee Blount.

The robbery happened after McGriff helped the group rob a juvenile and his girlfriend of money, drugs and a cell phone. After the first robbery, Blackston, McGriff and Blount went to another man’s home in the Green Run neighborhood.

 Jahmon Markee Blount will spend 38 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of Gilbert McGriff. (Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)
Jahmon Markee Blount will spend 38 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of Gilbert McGriff. (Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

While McGriff was in another room, Blackston came up with a plan to rob him, the release states.

The group left the Green Run house together in McGriff’s car and drove to Sierra Drive. There, the group tried to rob McGriff and a fight ensued. During the fight one man was grazed on the face by a bullet, and McGriff was shot in the butt. The group left him bleeding in the street, where police found him. McGriff died later at a local hospital.

On April 15, 2015, Blount pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, three counts of use of a firearm in a felony, attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit a felony and second-degree murder. He will serve 38 years in prison for his role in the crimes.

Mayfield can be reached at 352-431-9612.

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Adrienne Mayfield is an award-winning, multi-media journalist hailing from Clermont, Fla. She moved to Lynchburg, Va. on a whim when she was 19, and worked her way to Hampton Roads in 2013. Adrienne is passionate about telling people stories via covering public safety and the judicial system. She isn’t afraid to take a heads-on approach to covering crime, including knocking on doors to get the details police aren’t sharing. Adrienne is a 2014 Old Dominion University graduate who still lives within walking distance of the college. You may see her cruising around Downtown Norfolk on her bike, enjoying a sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro or playing fetch with her dog, Greta, at the Colonial Place dog park.