The morning after Keyshon Zimmerman was shot in the face at Everybodeez Club in New Haven, Daycus Bailey called a guy in Waterbury about a white Ford Crown Victoria for sale.
Prosecutors said Bailey and two accomplices needed the car because they were planning to kill Kierron Stanley, the man they believed was responsible for shooting their friend Zimmerman the night before.
They bought the car Aug. 16 — then used it as a battering ram nine days later in Derby on Chapel Street, where they shot Stanley seven times in broad daylight, then scattered into the woods.
The records from Bailey’s cell phone — introduced at Superior Court in Milford — triggered him to plead guilty Tuesday to attempted murder.
Bailey, 28, smiled, laughed quietly and shook his head as he accepted the plea bargain — a 20-year sentence, suspended after he serves 10 years in prison.
He had already turned down that plea deal and was headed toward trial to fight the charges, but the newly-aired connections between the shootings complicated his case.
The state’s attorney’s statements confirm what the Valley Independent Sentinel first reported in Sept. 2009 — that the New Haven and Derby shootings were connected.
Senior Assistant States Attorney Charles Stango said cell phone records from the phone that Bailey had with him when he was arrested helped to establish a motive for the Derby ambush.
Bailey was at Everybodeez Club the night Zimmerman was shot, Stango said. The state planned to call a witness who would testify that Bailey was “visibly angry and upset” about the shooting.
The morning after Zimmerman was shot in the face, Bailey’s cell phone records show a call was placed to purchase the Ford.
On Aug. 18, someone dropped that car off at a shop in Ansonia to have the windows tinted black. The person left a cell phone number matching Bailey’s, except with two of the numbers mixed up, Stango said.
Then, 45 minutes before the three men shot Stanley, Bailey’s cell phone made and received 15 phone calls with a cell phone used by Zimmerman, Stango said.
One of those calls was made just two minutes before the shooting.
“The evidence at trial was certainly going to indicate this was done to extract some revenge for their friend,” Stango said.
On Tuesday, in what was supposed to be a hearing on what evidence to allow into the trial, state prosecutors presented the cell phone records — and a concern.
Bailey’s attorney, Robert Pickering, also represents Zimmerman in separate weapons and assault charges.
If the state introduced evidence connecting the two men in a motive for the shooting, would Pickering be able to represent Bailey fairly at trial?
Judge Maureen Keegan heard arguments about the possible conflict.
Pickering said it would be “premature” to dismiss him from the case, and called the state’s evidence “conjecture.” He said there is no proof Zimmerman was on the other end of those calls, or that Bailey himself made the calls.
Regardless, Keegan decided that Pickering should be removed from the case.
“I hope you understand, Mr. Bailey,” Keegan said, “I have to make sure you get a fair trial.”
But Bailey said he didn’t have money to hire another attorney — and on the eve of an attempted murder trial, he didn’t want to start over with a public defender.
Pickering then asked if he could be allowed to stay on the case a little longer, with the sole purpose of working out a settlement.
“I would like to continue to discuss some disposition here that is acceptable to the state and my client,” Pickering said.
Four hours later — Bailey accepted the plea deal offered by the state.
Bailey is the third man to plead guilty in the case. Stephen Cook and Robert Smith accepted similar deals last month.
Stango said the three men plotted to kill Stanley because they believe Stanley shot Zimmerman in the face on Aug. 16.
However, no one has ever been charged in connection to Zimmerman’s shooting, which left him with a superficial injury to his face.
On Aug. 25, Stango said the three men got into the Ford and cruised around Chapel Street waiting for Stanley to get off work at Whalley Glass Co.
Their car looked like an unmarked police car — and a supervisor at Whalley Glass had noticed it on Chapel Street. He warned employees of a speed trap.
As Stanley approached the intersection of Elm Street, the Ford sped toward his car, and T-boned it on the driver’s side, Stango said.
Bailey, Cook and Smith got out of the car, and each fired shots at Stanley, who stumbled out of his SUV and retreated back toward Whalley Glass.
A neighbor stood on his front porch watching the scene. It was a warm day. Neighbors were outside working in their yards.
Other workers were also leaving work at the time.
“His fellow workers risked their lives to bring (Stanley) to safety,” Stango said.
The three men saw the witnesses and ran, Stango said.
Bailey had on a winter ski mask and a baseball cap. The cap was thrown in the back of the car — and later found to have his DNA, the prosecutor said.
The ski mask was recovered near the scene — also with Bailey’s DNA.
He ran past police officers who happened to be in the area, Stango said.
After getting caught, Bailey told the police he had been dropped off in the area by a relative and was planning to meet Stanley, who he identified as his cousin.
“This was in broad daylight,” Stango said. “This was a brazen, gang-land attempted murder.”
The key phone records were provided by Derby police this week, Stango said. They had been stored in a folder in Derby for another criminal investigation — the September 2009 murder of Rodney Baldwin.
Baldwin was shot in the head as he walked on Hawthorne Avenue to get cigarettes on Sept. 3, 2009.
No arrests have been made in the case. The Valley Indy reported the shooting’s connection to the Everybodeez Club shooting and the Chapel Street shooting in Sept. 2009.
Stango did not elaborate on the connection.
The three men were each charged with attempted murder, conspiracy at attempted murder, first-degree assault with serious injuries, and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault in connection to the Chapel Street shooting.
The charges could have resulted in 80 years in prison, if convicted after a trial.
But under the pleas, each man faces 20-year prison terms, suspended after they spend 10 years in jail, with five years probation.
Smith and Cook, who accepted plea deals earlier in the process — had the attempted murder and conspiracy at attempted murder charges dropped.
Bailey pleaded guilty to the attempted murder charge under the Alford Doctrine, in which he disputes some of the facts in the case but concedes the state likely has enough to convict him at trial. He pleaded guilty to the assault charges.
Bailey will be sentenced on June 14 at Superior Court in Milford.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced May 24. Cook is scheduled to be sentenced May 25.