Reggie Daniel waved to his sister on Friday as he wheeled himself out of Cook County Judge Carol Howard’s courtroom to begin a 50-year prison sentence for the 2016 murder of Darrin Joss.
Moments earlier, Daniel told the judge he was sorry for shooting Joss at point-blank range as Joss worked out on an elliptical treadmill in the gym of the luxe River West apartment building where the two men were neighbors. As he did at trial, Daniel, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said that he shot Joss — in view of building security cameras and witnesses who also were using the workout area — because Joss had threatened him during an argument.
As she did in finding Daniel guilty following a bench trial in August, Howard said Joss didn’t provoke the fatal shooting.
“Mr. Joss may have said some cruel things, but, again, the argument was over. Mr. Joss had retired to the exercise room,” said Howard, noting that the 50-year prison term would almost certainly be a life sentence for the 51-year-old Daniel. “No matter how cruel Mr. Joss’ statements may have been, there was no justification for Mr. Daniel to get a gun and return and shoot him.”
Joss was a burly former football player who grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, and moved to Chicago after college and became a successful commodities trader, his brother, Neil, said during the sentencing hearing. Joss loved the city, and the Cubs, and was looking forward to the start of baseball season when he was shot in March 2016, his brother said. The Cubs won their first World Series since 1908 later that fall, and Neil Joss recalled watching the final game with his son from their home in Iowa.
“After last out, we were still cheering, and my son comes running over to me… jumps in my arms and said, I wish Uncle Darrin was here with us,” he said.
At trial, Daniel, who was paralyzed in a 1987 shooting, testified that he and Joss had feuded for weeks over Joss’ girlfriend, who had flirted with Daniel. Daniel said Joss had threatened him on numerous occasions and physically assaulted him, all altercations that took place out of view of security cameras.
“I’m sorry for the actions I took, but, you know, for them to call me and say I’m a cold person and did this out of jealousy…It wasn’t jealousy,” Daniel said. “It was done out of him attacking me.
“It’s sad I’m going away for a long time for defending myself… I want them and the family to know, I’m not a monster.”
Daniel testified that after arguing with Joss on the day of the shooting, he went to his apartment and retrieved a gun and shot Joss in the back of the head as he worked out. Daniel shot him a second time as he fell to the floor. The gun was never found, and Daniel said he didn’t know what happened to it.
Laura Lee, a close friend of Joss, said outside the courtroom that Daniel’s story about being threatened by Joss was “total b——t.”
“Darrin was not a bully. He would never have hurt anyone,” she said. “We are all here because of (Daniel’s) actions.”
- Murder in luxury River West apartments leads to quick guilty verdict, Aug. 14, 2018
- CHA moves to strip aid from suspect in gym murder, March 20, 2016