(WSVN) - When a Broward man died after a fight, it seemed to be an open-and-shut criminal case to the victim’s family. So why is the state dropping the charges? 7’s Brandon Beyer has tonight’s 7News investigation.
Carol Field, victim’s sister: “That’s a picture of my brother with our daughter Kaitlyn.”
July 18, 2012 started out just like any other day for Carol Field.
Carol Field: “She called him Uncle Pickle.”
Until she got a phone call from Davie Police.
Carol Field: “They told me what had happened earlier that morning.”
Carol’s brother, 48-year-old David Grant, a math tutor, died after a heated argument in a parking lot.
Police say he was fighting with his 28-year-old student Joni Donley.
Carol Field: “He physically attacked David, and he kicked him to the ground, and he knocked him out, and then he left David face down in the parking lot, while he fled in his vehicle.”
According to police reports, David and Joni were fighting over over payments for tutoring services — and it turned ugly.
Witnesses told police, they heard “the white male say n-word n-word,” “the black male responded by saying, ‘don’t say that again.'”
Minutes later, David Grant was dead.
The 911 call was released.
911 dispatcher: “What’s the emergency?”
Caller: “This is black guy fight with white guy. The white guy is actually down now.”
911 dispatcher: “Is he moving?”
Caller: “No, ma’am.”
Carol says, even if her brother used racial slurs, he didn’t deserve to die.
Carol Field: “No matter what words are said, nobody should physically attack you, and leave you on the pavement dead.”
Ten hours after the incident, Donley was arrested.
The police report says, when he was told David was dead, he began crawling on the floor stating, “Oh, my God, I took a life. John, it doesn’t matter who, you took the life.” He also said, “Oh, my God, this can’t be happening.”
Donley was initially charged with murder, but that was later downgraded to manslaughter. The case never went to trial.
And now, five years later, the family is being told it never will. The case is being dropped.
Carol Field: “For five years, they have asked us to be patient and to have faith in the system, and we just learned there will be no trial.”
This email sent to the family by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office says, “The legal grounds to go forward in a prosecution for his death are not evident,” and, “The state finds that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
Carol Field: “It’s inexplicable, and it’s inexcusable.”
Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz declined our request to talk about the case, and no specific reasons were given as to why the charges are being dropped.
Donley’s attorney first agreed to talk to us, but later canceled.
We also tried to talk to Donley, but no one came to the door at his home.
So now, nearly five years to the day he died, Carol and her family say that, although they will never have justice, they will have their memories.
Carol Field: “I spoke to David two days before this happened, and the thing that does warm my heart is that the conversation was so beautiful and memorable, and I keep that.”
A hearing to officially drop the charges is set for Friday. Donley is not likely to attend.
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