It’s been 19 years since she was convicted of being an accomplice to attempted murder and aiding in the escape of two fugitives.
Veronica Daniels, 35, is a graduating senior psychology student from Miami who plans to open a family health center, “2nd-Chance 2-Make 1st-Impressions.’
The organization will provide assistance to challenged and dysfunctional youth and young adults.
As the daughter of a minister, she wasn’t allowed to do many of the things other teenagers were doing. This resulted in frequent feelings of embarrassment and restriction.
At the age of 14, Daniels received a phone call from a popular boy in school, but was soon humiliated by her father’s stern denial to the boy’s request to speak to her.
Daniels remembers her father saying, “Veronica is not allowed to receive phone calls from boys!”
Daniels couldn’t take any more of her father’s strict rules and her mother’s alcoholism, so she decided to run away from home.
Knowing her father would come to school looking for her, Daniels dropped out in the ninth grade.
This decision led to her journey on life’s rocky road. She had the disadvantage of a double-edged sword- being homeless and uneducated.
With nowhere to turn, she stayed in one of the nearby projects. She was fed and housed under an agreement that she would befriend and date an acquaintance of her roommate.
During Daniels’ years away from home she learned more about the street life her father tried to keep her away from. The restrictions that once prevented her from the troubles of the real world were now nonexistent.
The lack of an education and parental guidance earned her a one-way ticket into the arms of Brindley Marshall. They became quite a couple, doing things together that other couples weren’t. Daniels became the lookout for Marshall and his friends during robberies and other crimes.
On Aug. 10, 1984, Marshall and 16-year old Daniels entered a courtroom anticipating the escape of Marshall’s brother and a friend. Daniels volunteered to sneak a gun into the courtroom to aid Marshall.
As he held up the courtroom, the two fugitives fled. Marshall attempted to shoot the bailiff but the gun never went off. Marshall was captured a block away from the courthouse.
Daniels testified to her involvement and was charged with attempted murder and aiding in the escape of fugitives. She was tried as an adult and sentenced to one year in jail.
Upon her release in 1985, Daniels was given a chance to get her life in order. She realized she didn’t have control over her life and decided to go back to school.
Daniels said she never thought she would be a college graduate after dropping out of her first year in high school.
She received her associates of arts degree in business adminstration in 2001 from Miami Dade Community with a 3.5 GPA.
Looking ahead to May 2003, Daniels will graduate from FAMU with a Bachelors of Science degree and go on to attend graduate school.
Daniels is also a proud mother of two and a mentor to local teens and young adults.
Daniels’ journey to self-confidence and understanding has been a long one. In search of an identity, love and acceptance she found God.
“God is our beginning root,” she said. “If you don’t know your roots you’ll wither up and die.”
Sherry Culmer can be reached at email@example.com.