THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, March 1, 1996 TAG: 9603010504 SECTION: LOCAL PAGE: B3 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY TOM HEATH, THE WASHINGTON POST DATELINE: LUMBERTON LENGTH: Medium: 73 lines
Daniel Green, 21-year-old high school dropout with a long history of violence, was convicted Thursday of murdering the father of basketball star Michael Jordan.
A Robeson County jury took almost five hours over two days to decide that Green shot James Jordan in the chest in the early hours of July 24, 1993, as the older man snoozed at the edge of the highway in a red Lexus coupe given to him by his son.
The jury will meet again next week to decide whether to sentence Green to death or life in prison. Larry Demery, 20, who was with Green at the time of the murder, had pleaded guilty previously and turned star prosecution witness against his former friend and crime partner in return for a life sentence.
Michael Jordan did not attend the trial and neither did members of the family except for a brother, Larry, who testified about the authenticity of some jewelry found in Green's possession after the murder.
Jordan was a 57-year-old businessmen who reveled in son Michael's astonishing sports success. He traveled the country following Michael's career, first at the University of North Carolina and then with the Chicago Bulls. The two would sit arm-in-arm in the locker room after Michael's biggest victories, getting soaked from championship champagne. When he was shot, James Jordan was wearing an NBA All-Star ring and a Bulls watch, both given to him by his son.
According to the prosecutor's account, Jordan had been at a funeral and was en route home to Charlotte when he pulled his red Lexus off Interstate 95, reclined his car seat and began sleeping off the effects of alcohol consumed that day. He had $62 and a bunch of credit cards in his pocket and golf clubs in the trunk.
Interstate 95 arcs through Robeson County, attracting holdup artists and big-time drug dealers as a midway spot between Miami and New York, police say. This is an area where crushing poverty and an abundance of drugs have ruined many families.
And that's where Green and Demery, high-school dropouts with checkered pasts and histories of frightening violence, fatally crossed paths with Jordan.
Green, who since his arrest changed his name to As-Saddiq Al-Amin Sallam U'Allah, once nearly killed a neighbor by striking him on the head with an axe and was in prison at age 16. Demery whacked a store owner with a brick when he was still a teenager and declared himself to be a full-time criminal. Demery's parents had bolted their own bedroom door to stop him from stealing from them.
``They are a product of the circumstances. But they're both bad people, I'm convinced of that,'' said District Attorney Johnson Britt, 35, whose extended family has deep roots here.
According to prosecutors and police, Green and Demery, in the area because they were preparing to rob a nearby motel, spotted Jordan's luxury car at the side of the road and decided to go after it. As they approached the car Jordan was waking up. Before a disoriented Jordan could utter more than a few words, Green shot him, according to testimony by Demery. Then, ``we both stood there and watched the man die,'' he told the jury.
Only after the two had rifled through the car and Jordan's possessions did they realize who their victim was. `` `I believe we've killed Michael Jordan's daddy,' '' Demery said Green told him.
The two made off with the car, dumping Jordan's body in a South Carolina swamp. For the next few days, until their arrest, Green went joy riding in the Lexus, used Jordan's cellular telephone, and brazenly wore his jewelry, including the NBA ring, and clothes. He even made a rap videotape in which he is shown flaunting the jewelry. At the trial, Demery accused Green of wearing the dead man's pants to court. by CNB