The man accused of murder in the hit-and-run death of USA TODAY foreign affairs reporter Oren Dorell in June pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Daryl Grant Alexander, 47, entered his guilty plea in Washington, D.C. Superior Court on Sept. 14. Alexander remains in jail; he is scheduled to be sentenced January 4.
Dorrell, 53, was riding his Kawasaki motorcycle on H Street in Washington at about 8:30 p.m. on June 8 when Alexander rear-ended him, authorities say. Dorrell was pulled under Alexander’s Toyota Camry.
Witnesses stopped Alexander about a block from the collision. Dorell died at a Washington hospital the next day.
Alexander told police he drank alcohol and smoked PCP in the car earlier in the night, but did not remember driving or hitting a person,authorities say. Police found a Long Island iced tea, an alcoholic drink, next to the driver’s seat, and noted the car smelled of PCP.
Police charged Alexander with second-degree murder, driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a collision.
The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Manslaughter carries up to 30 years.
Under the plea deal, prosecutors and the defense agreed to a sentence of five to six years.The driving under the influence and leaving the scene charges are to be dropped.
Alexander entered what is known as an Alford plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt, but agrees there’s enough evidence to convict. The deal requires Alexander to acknowledge he took PCP and was driving the car when it hit and killed Dorell.
“Because of his degree of disorientation due to the intoxicating effects of that drug,” the agreement states, “(Alexander) lacks a specific recollection of the events and an ability to recall what occurred.”
The deal now goes to a judge for approval.
Oren Dorell: My father bucked his times on civil rights
Alexander’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to comment.
Alexander, from Washington, D.C., has a long criminal background, which includes a history of impaired driving.
He’s twice been arrested in Washington on suspicion of driving under the influence.
In 2009, police pulled over a slow-moving and mumbling Alexander in Southeast D.C., where officers smelled PCP coming from his car. He pleaded guilty driving under the influence.
In 2016, officers found him “passed out” in a Toyota Camry with an open beer and empty Long Island iced tea. Police said it was “glaringly obvious” he was “very intoxicated.”
He pleaded guilty to DUI, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and driving with a suspended license and served 15 days in jail.
Dorell, a former construction worker-turned-reporter, worked for two decades in journalism, the last 13 years at USA TODAY as a globetrotting foreign affairs reporter.
Known for his bravery and perseverance, he covered the Iraq War and conflict in Ukraine, and was in Tahrir Square in Cairo when Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned in 2011. He was on the ground for hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.
Colleagues and friends from all over the world have honored him in memorial services since his death. He leaves his wife, Ginny, and two sons, Malcolm and Leo.
Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman
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