From Detroit News
DETROIT. The man, who was 16 when he shot and killed a Detroit Tigers fan outside a downtown restaurant while thousands were celebrating the team’s 1984 World Series victory, was paroled after serving 35 years in prison despite being 184 violations, including allegations of sexual misconduct and assaults on personnel.
On October 14, 1984, the murder of 27-year-old Ypsilanti microbiologist Raymond Dobrzynski, which took place outside Coney Island Lafayette in the midst of a large, unruly party, made headlines in national newspapers. William Bryant was indicted as an adult and sentenced to life in prison in 1986 with no parole.
Due to a 2012 Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama, which ruled that mandatory life sentences are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders, Bryant, now 53, was re-sentenced on November 19, 2020, to 40-80 years in prison by Wayne. District Judge Shannon Walker.
Bryant was granted parole on November 25 and was released five days later, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gauz said.
“During his time in prison, which began in 1986, he committed 184 misdemeanors,” Gauz said in an email. “(Crimes included) theft, sexual misconduct, assault on personnel, smuggling, threatening behavior, arrogance, disobeying a direct order, and / and possession of dangerous contraband.”
State records show that Bryant was released in Arizona and will be released on parole until November 2023. Including his time in prison, he was credited with serving time at 36 years and 11 months.
Karl Dobrzynski, Raymond’s father, said of Bryant’s parole decision: “Of course, this is devastating to our family. … I’ll be honest, I’m a life-for-life guy. He shot my son in the back because he didn’t give up his car. ”
Bryant’s attorney, Tina Olsen of the State Defender’s Court of Appeals, said in an email: “It’s worth noting that our so-called ‘minors for life’ clients are some of the safest people to be released into society. They have an incredibly low relapse rate and are successfully reintegrating into society. ”
Olsen added: “While I cannot talk about the details of Mr. Bryant’s prison file, I would like to warn you that“ misconduct ”in prison is not the same as a criminal conviction and should in no way be consistent the same standards of proof. And they are taken into account by the Parole Board as needed. “
Attempts to contact Bryant directly were unsuccessful.
Raymond Dobrzynski, an avid baseball fan who worked at Difco Laboratories near Tiger Stadium, was unable to get a ticket to the fifth game of the World Series, so after the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres 8-4 and won the World Championship He headed downtown to join the party, his father said.
“He was a huge Tiger fan and wanted to be in the city center to celebrate,” said 93-year-old Karl Dobrzynski. “He was supposed to meet some buddies there.”
The celebration turned out to be ugly, triggering one of the most notorious incidents in Detroit history. Fans overturned the Checker Cab and then overturned two news vans and a Detroit police car that they set on fire. Three women reported rape. Police made 42 arrests while national media representatives stood on the ramp of Tiger Stadium overlooking Michigan Avenue, watching riots unfold in the street below.
A few blocks to the east, just before midnight, Raymond Dobrzynski found a parking spot in front of Lafayette Coney Island, his favorite stop after the Tigers games. According to the Detroit News archives, he dived into and out of the restaurant with a sack of dog horses.
Dobrzynski returned to his car and Bryant, who was with five companions, walked over and tried to yank him out of the car window, police said. Police said that during the fight, Bryant fired a .38 revolver and hit the Michigan State University graduate in the back.
“At the time of the murder, the streets of the city center were filled with revelers,” wrote The News at the time.
Dobzhinsky was pronounced dead upon arrival at a Detroit hospital. This murder was one of 514 Detroit murders in 1984.
The victims’ parents and The News offered a cumulative reward of $ 4,000 for information leading to the murderer’s arrest. The police reached out to thousands of potential eyewitnesses to the shooting, and several people stepped forward.
Bryant, who was arrested four days after Dobrzynski’s death and held in a former Wayne County youth home on an unrelated case, was charged with Dobrzynski’s murder as an adult.
During a two-day trial before Registration Court Judge Vera Massey-Jones, Bryant’s friends testified that they saw him shoot Dobrzynski and that they heard Bryant brag earlier that day that he was planning to steal a car.
Massie-Jones, who is currently Wayne’s district judge following the merger of Recorder’s Court with the district court in 1997, found Bryant in less than an hour. She sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
“(Dobzhinsky) was shot and killed simply because he didn’t get out of his car,” she said during a January 28, 1986 hearing. “No circumstances could justify this crime. While the others headed downtown to enjoy the celebration, Bryant went to get the car. “
Bryant was 17 when he began serving his prison sentence in February 1986. Although he was not a model prisoner, a 2012 Supreme Court decision allowed him to be re-sentenced, Gauz said.
“He was a minor, so because of the Supreme Court ruling, he was one of the (inmates) who had to review the sentence,” Gauz said. “He became eligible (November 25) for parole on the basis of this re-conviction, and he was paroled on November 30, 21.”
Karl Dobrzynski said he heard that Bryant was eligible for parole due to the Supreme Court ruling, but did not know he was released until he was told by a reporter from The News.
“When I tell the family, they will be disappointed,” Dobzhinsky said.
Dobzhinsky said his son was “a very smart boy.”
“He did medical research; he wanted to work on medicine to save lives, ”he said.
(c) 2021 The Detroit News. Visit Detroit News at www.detnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.