GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A man in prison for the 2013 slaying of Grand Rapids businessman John Dahlinger at the victim’s Northeast Side condominium lost a bid to have his case reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court.
In a one-page order released Tuesday, April 4, justices denied a request by Danyell Darshiek Thomas to have the High Court look at his case. “We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court,’’ justices wrote.
It’s the second judicial setback for Thomas, who is serving mandatory life in prison for Dahlinger’s murder.
The Court of Appeals last August upheld the jury verdict against Thomas, who argued he was denied a fair trial because a rap video was shown to jurors and a gun linking him to the crime was admitted into evidence.
Dahlinger, 56, was beaten and shot on Oct. 16, 2013, inside his condominium near Dean Lake Avenue and Knapp Street NE.
Jurors convicted Thomas on four counts, including felony murder. He’s serving a mandatory life sentence at Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights.
The prosecution's key witness was Dijana Kilic, an admitted prostitute Dahlinger hired to keep him company while he ingested cocaine. She was convicted for her role in the murder and is serving a 5 to 20-year sentence. Now 28, Kilic is at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
In his appeal, Thomas fought admission of a rap video he made and disclosure of a Sept. 2013 fight in which the barrel of a handgun was shoved down Kilik’s throat.
Thomas objected to being linked to the gun, notably because Kilik’s DNA was found on the inside of the gun barrel.
During sentencing in Jan. 2015, Thomas, now 39, professed his innocence and claimed he was the victim of a racist criminal justice system.
"I believe there was more than adequate evidence to support their decision,'' Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan said at the time, referring to the jury's Dec. 10, 2014 verdict.
The day he was killed, Dahlinger paid Kilic to watch him take cocaine. When it became apparent he could not pay another $300, Kilic texted Thomas to come to Dahlinger's condominium.
Thomas entered through an unlocked door and confronted Dahlinger as he sat on the bed, using drugs. Kilic testified she left the room but heard yelling and a gunshot.
Moments after the gunshot, Thomas came running down the hallway and hustled her out of the house.
After the shooting, the couple drove to Gun Lake Casino near Wayland because Thomas thought his presence there would provide an alibi should he be questioned about the homicide.
Thomas spent about 30 minutes at the casino, and then they headed to Traverse City to spend the night. It was there Kilac said she learned she was pregnant with Thomas' child.
Police recovered the murder weapon, a .357 caliber handgun, from the Muskegon River. Other evidence was found in a farm field near Gun Lake Casino.
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