The Crazy Story of Dorian Daughtry

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 by sadncrazybaseball

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.

Sources:

“Alabama.” USA Today 9 July 1991. Print.

The Associated Press. “Bail Set In Killing Of B’klyn Girl.” Newsday [Long Island] 30 Aug. 1990: 19. Print.

The Associated Press. “Former Mariner Farmhand Gets Murder Charge.” The Seattle Times 23 July 1990. Print.

Freifeld, Karen, and Peg Tyre. “Suspect’s Big Dreams Are Ended.” Newsday [Long Island] 23 July 1990. Print.

Frost, Edward. “Ex-Ballplayer Sentenced in Girl’s Death.” Daily News [Kingsport] 10 July 1991: 5. Print.

Hedges, Chris. “Wild Shooting On Street Hits Girl, 9, in Car.” The New York Times 23 July 1990. Print.

Hurtado, Patricia. “Let Me Testify, Says B’klyn Slay Suspect.” Newsday [Long Island] 26 July 1990: 16. Print.

“Paralyzed Drag Racer Gwynn Views Videotape of Crash.” The Vindicator [Youngstown] 25 July 1990: 22. Print.

Perez-Rivas, Manuel. “Jurors Ponder Slaying of Girl.” Newsday [Long Island] 11 June 1991: 28. Print.

Rodman, Bob. “Ems Coach Catches All-Star Express.” Eugene Register-Guard 12 July 1991: 3B. Print.

“Stray Bullet Injures Napping Girl.” The Spokesman-Review [Spokane] 23 July 1990: A4. Print.

“Stray Bullet Kills Girl.” Toledo Blade 25 July 1990: 3. Print.

Sullivan, C.J. Wild Tales from the Police Blotter. Globe Pequot, 2008. Print.

“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&gt;.

The Crazy Story of Conklyn Meriwether

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2012 by sadncrazybaseball

It was November 20, 1955 in the small Florida town of Tavernier, on the Florida Keys. Conklyn Meriwether was eating his lunch at his in-laws’ home when suddenly he spoke to his son of just seven years evil words that quickly formed into an atrocious act of horror. He arose, walked to his car and grabbed his hatchet. He returned and the bloodbath began.

First, he attacked his brother-in law, Paul Mills, a mere teenager of 16 years. The youth survived the assault, but with a fractured skull and a four-inch gash on his head, neck and arm. He then went after his father-in-law, Paul’s 55-year-old pa, Charles, who initially survived the multiple skull fractures delivered by the crazed lunatic behind the axe—but who would, days later, succumb to his injuries.

Then it was his paralysis-stricken, immobile mother-in-law Ellen Mills’ turn, fearfully stuck in her wheelchair, unable to thwart the steel blows raining down upon her. She was the first to die, perishing instantly.

The attacks eventually ended, with Meriwether throwing the bloodied hatchet into a nearby bush. The officers arrived, finding him pacing back and forth in front of the bungalow in which the crimes took place. He was taken into custody. His wife, Ruth, who along with her three children was with Conklyn when the rampage began, had fled.

***

Before the amnesia-afflicted Conklyn Meriwether brutally murdered his paralyzed, wheelchair-bound mother-in-law and before he smashed his 55-year-old father-in-law’s skull in, and before he tore a gaping wound into his teenaged brother-in-law and even before he said to his seven-year-old son, “now, would you like to see me kill everybody?”, Conklyn Meriwether was a pretty good baseball player.

Though he never played in the major leagues—he appeared on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster in 1946, but did not get into a game—the six-foot, 210-pound future killer held his own against those whom he played. He spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues, including four in the New York Yankees farm system. He hit .307 in his career and displayed great power, slugging 280 home runs—an average of nearly 20 a season.

He could even twirl the pill with great acumen—he started out his career as a pitcher, one who would enter the ballgame doing cartwheels towards the mound—winning as many as 13 games in a season.

In 1951, the 33-year-old slugger walloped 44 home runs, while batting .327. “Conk,” as he was known, hit 33 home runs the next year and 42 the next. Despite his successes, the man was aging—and following the 1954 season, after he tallied 1,463 hits and 268 doubles and a slugging percentage over .550 in his career, Meriwether was out of baseball.

Perhaps he was missing the game especially so on that late-autumn day. Perhaps, the ballplayer-turned-carpenter felt he could still swing a mighty stick, but lacking a bat he reached for the hatchet instead. Or perhaps, the husky Conklyn Wells Meriwether—a crazy name to fit a certifiably crazy man—was just nuts.

After the World War II veteran was taken into custody, investigators and family members and neighbors tried to piece together what just happened.

Though reports conflicted—some claimed Ellen was attacked first, then the father-in-law, then Paul, what unfolded was a murderous tragedy, one in which three people were attacked by an ax-wielding man.

That much they knew. But why? Meriwether’s wife said he was prone to fits of rage. His mental stability was in question.

Despite his potential cerebral disturbance, Meriwether, held without bond, was charged with first-degree murder in the attack on Mrs. Mills and attempted murder in the attack on the other two victims. When Mr. Mills passed, the charges were upped to two counts of first-degree murder. Meriwether waited in the Key West jail for his time in court.

At the behest of his sister, Mae Gibbs, in December 1944 a commission of two doctors and a layman was called to investigate the mental condition of the killer. A sane man could not do what he had done, it was thought. In his mind there was a glitch, an error, a miswiring of the synapses.

A month later, Judge Raymond R. Lord heard the findings. The sanity commission, after examining Meriwether and developing its report on the homicidal man, declared him insane and Lord had him committed to the State Mental Institution at Chattahoochee, warding off a possible death sentence.

The Protestant Conklyn Meriwether was born on July 18, 1918 in Island Grove, Florida. He would gain fame as a star minor league baseball player and infamy as an axe-wielding murderer. The criminally insane man, despite his horrid crimes, fought off the penalty of death and was paroled in 1975. He lived to be 78 years old, dying on August 11, 1996 in Bartow, Florida.

Sources:

Bedingfield, Gary. “Those Who Served.” Gary Bedingfield’s Baseball in Wartime. Baseball in Wartime, 7 Feb. 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.

“Consider Mental Quark Cause of Tragedy.” The Times-News [Hendersonville] 21 Nov. 1955: Four. Print.

“Ex-Ballplayer Who Allegedly Killed 2 Is Declared Insane.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 19 Jan. 1956, sec. 2: 13. Print.

“Hatchet Killer to Be Examined.” Sarasota Journal 20 Dec. 1955: 2. Print.

“MERIWETHER-L Archives.” Rootsweb. Ancestry.com, 19 Nov. 2006. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.

Pietrusza, David, and John Thorn. Baseball’s Canadian-American League. McFarland, 2005. Google. Web. 10 Feb. 2012.

“2nd Victim of Tragedy on Key Dies.” The Miami Daily News 6 Dec. 1955: 2A. Print.

“Uses Hatchet to Kill His Mother in Law.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 21 Nov. 1955: 2. Print.