David Grant was strangled to death in a West Florida parking lot in July 2012. Five years late the Broward County State Attorney’s Office has dropped all charges against Joni Donley, man who confessed to killing him.
Grant, a math tutor had arranged a meeting with Donley at a Dunkin Donuts in the County. According to reports, what followed was a simple argument that broke out into a fatal altercation.
“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.”
Said Carol Fields, David’s grieving sister describing the grisly details while speaking after the controversial court ruling.
According to eyewitnesses the argument had started inside the Dunkin Donuts regarding payments that needed to be made to the tutor. As it progressed, the pair are said to have moved outside where Grant called Donley a racial slur, confirmed by witnesses. A memo released by the State states that this then “suddenly provoked [Donley] to turn and strike Mr. Grant.”
By all accounts what followed afterwards is a gross mishandling of justice, taken into custody about ten hours after the fight Donley was charged with murder. According to police reports, during Joni was crawling on the floor talking to himself saying
“You killed somebody, Jon. How could you? How could you have done that? Oh, my God, I took a life. … This guy’s dead for nothing, for nothing, Jon.”
A key witness for the case was also identified in Saudi student Ahmad Alsuvae, however the testimony he provided was not preserved for use by the prosecution. Nor was any note made of the fact that Alsuvae planned to return to his home country upon the completion of his studies. Ultimately, this meant that key details that might have pushed the case in favor of State prosecutors were lost.
For their part the State said that they lacked “competent evidence”, that proved the killing did not take place in self-defense. Apparently Donley had been walking away, before the slur and had held grant for “approximately 15 seconds”, despite the tentative terms used by the State the autopsy report confirmed that this was homicide by strangulation. While Grant may have been 400 pounds and cardiovascular disease was a “contributory cause of death”, the judgment this was not by any means a natural death.
An understandable upset Field family denies the State’s claims however saying,
“We were told to let the State Attorney handle it. We did that, and the result was a killer walked away,”
From the evidence we can gather that definitely seems to be the case. With a clear as daylight confession from the attacker, and several eye witnesses to the crime at hand the question stands – why was this man allowed to walk free? Does the use of one ill-advised racial slur justify execution?