Arguments and guns normally do not go well together. At the very best, the gun wielding individual does not fire the weapon, nobody gets hurt and everyone goes home happy. At the very worst, someone dies.
And that’s what happened in the early hours of that July 22, 1990 morning, when, while on a Brooklyn street after a night of allegedly imbibing and becoming intoxicated, Dorian Daughtry began shooting wildly at a man with whom he had once had an intense argument.
Bullets sprayed here and there. People on the street ducked and ran and jumped, looking to escape the gun-wielding lunatic.
After 10 or 12 shots, his clip ran out. The shooting, which began at 12:45 AM, was over. It appeared no one was hurt.
But appearances are deceiving. Veronica Corales, sleeping in her parents’ car after a long day of fun at Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey, absorbed one of those little missiles, the back of her head bleeding from the wound. Her mother and grandmother, aware of what had happened, were screaming hysterically.
Local residents became vigilantes. They attacked the shooter, leaping on him, beating him, throwing bottles at him. His car was demolished, with all things breakable broken. Windows were shattered, glass littered the street.
And yet the perpetrator got away.
The nine-year-old did not die instantly. Rather, she remained strong, with doctors at one point saying she had a 50-50 chance of survival.
As she lay in a Brookdale Hospital bed, her life quickly draining away, Daughtry returned to the crime scene with his sister hours later, perhaps to retrieve his now-destroyed vehicle. Men quickly pointed him out to the police, citing him as the shooter.
He was arrested on charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault. The small child’s condition continued to worsen and, a short while later, she succumbed to her injury.
Daughtry never intended to kill an innocent little girl on that midsummer day. In fact, three years ago he most certainly never would have envisioned himself in this situation to begin with.
Three years ago, the 22-year-old man was playing minor league baseball, trying to build his resume into a major league career.
The then-19-year-old, taken by the Seattle Mariners as the first pick in the 19th round of the 1987 draft, exhibited good speed in his first professional season, stealing six bases in 41 games for Seattle’s Single-A Bellingham squad.
Unfortunately, his quickness was not accompanied by much else. Nicknamed “Double-D,” he spent three seasons on the farm, never climbing past A-ball. His batting average never exceeded .236, his on-base percentage never surpassed .266 and his slugging percentage never topped .268. Each year, he had more strikeouts than hits.
Like many ballplayers before him and since, Daughtry could not cut it at the professional level. He starred at Miami-Dade College and Kingsborough Community College, but those in the stages ahead of him were just a bit better. The Mariners released him following the 1989 season, in part due to a bad knee and in part because he could not perform adequately on the field.
And so, he was out of baseball—and now in jail.
Perhaps he was a good guy-turned-bad. Remembered as a straight-arrow trying to break free from the shackles of ghetto life in his earlier days, Daughtry was either going to become a professional baseball player or, if that did not work out, he was going to attend the police academy, following in his sister’s footsteps.
However, the arrow wasn’t straight for long. While playing professional baseball, the rapscallion frequently broke curfew, argued with teammates and brought women into his hotel room, which was against team policy.
At the time of the incident, he was working at a state facility for the mentally retarded, deciding whether to take the tests required to enter the police academy, or to give baseball one more shot—former roommate Ken Griffey, Jr. had arranged tryouts with the Cincinnati Reds for him.
None of that would happen now. Prosecutors were seeking a charge of second-degree murder against the man who once dreamt of fighting those he now sat amongst in that dirty jail, facing bail of $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash. He was also hit with charges of assault and possession of a deadly weapon.
But, according to his attorney, Bruce McIntyre, the story was not quite so cut-and-dry. “[He] did not intend to murder anybody,” the lawyer claimed. Police said Daughtry fired seven shots, but at least 14 shell casings were found, leading McIntyre to believe, “someone else must have been shooting out there.” Another defense attorney argued at his trial: “My client did not have a gun…he did not fire a gun.”
Despite the defense’s claims, Daughtry was convicted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment, avoiding a longer jail sentence by being acquitted of murder. He was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole and was sent to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.
To the despair of the Corales family, however, Daughtry caught a break when in April 1996, his conviction was overturned on technicalities—but his luck didn’t last long. By the next year, an appellate court heard an appeal and reinstated the sentence. Daughtry himself then appealed that decision, ultimately losing and ending up back where he least wanted to be.
In 2005, he was paroled and has since lived a quiet life. Following his release from prison, he attended Stony Brook University, earning multiple Master’s degrees. He is now living a fairly average life—with a past he would like to forget.
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“Where Are They Now?” Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. HudsonLink.org. Web. 17 Feb. 2012. <http://www.hudsonlink.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content>.