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“He told me he doesn’t know, but I’m not totally convinced,” Young says. “Even if he didn’t know, I think he could find out. But that’s one of the hardest and most frustrating things about my job. Someone could get shot on a street corner with 500 people watching, and you’d be lucky to get five to tell you what they saw. People just don’t want to get involved. You can imagine how frustrating it is for the victim’s family.”

Dorsey says he’ll stand by his story for the rest of his life.

“I could see why they would say I knew who did it, because it’s my neighborhood,” Dorsey says. “But it was dark out, I was running as fast as I could and I didn’t recognize the voice. I’m sure someone in the neighborhood knows what happened, but they’re not going to talk about it.

“The way I see it is, somebody is always getting robbed in our neighborhood, and the drug dealers don’t like that. They work hard selling drugs 24/7, trying to make money. And if someone is trying to rob someone, that’s just like an enemy coming into their territory. Someone saw what looked like another person getting robbed and they took care of it.”

A month in jail

Despite Dorsey’s denials, the police weren’t about to let him go. He spent nearly a month in the Baltimore City Detention Center. The first night he was there, the other inmates heard his cell door slam and they began whooping and shouting at him through the darkness.

Who’s that down in Cell 13?

What you in for, homeboy? Murder? You kill my boy?

You better pass down those Timberland boots of yours, or you’ll be sorry.

But when the lights came on that next morning, Dorsey could hardly believe it.

“I knew half the guys in there,” Dorsey says. “They were all like, Hey Magic, that you? Hey everybody, this guy is cool. Don’t nobody mess with him. He’s definitely on my basketball team come rec time.’ ”

Even in jail, everybody wanted to see the kid from Dunbar play. So he pulled out his best moves and watched the crowd go wild.

“The first rec period we had, it seemed just about everybody was there watching me play basketball,” Dorsey says. “Everyone was lined up around the court to see the game. The [correctional officers] were slipping me sunflower seeds and extra Snickers bars and telling me they hoped I got out soon.”

Except, he didn’t get out soon. The days dragged on until they turned into weeks. Dorsey passed the time by helping illiterate inmates read letters from home, and then tried to show them how to write back. One night he prayed so much, he broke down in tears for the first time in years.

“Even with all the stuff I’ve been through, I never cry,
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” Dorsey says. “But for some reason I did that night. My aunt told me to pray and to really mean it this time. She told me if I didn’t do anything, then God would work it out. I prayed so hard, and I told myself that if I got out of there, I was going to take advantage of the second chance God gave me.”

Says Garris: “I could tell he was scared. I just told him what my momma always told me: Believe in prayer and that God is real. If you know you’re innocent, God will take care of it. I think he finally accepted that.”

Dorsey’s luck was about to change. Well known Baltimore attorney Warren A. Brown heard about the case and agreed to defend Dorsey free of charge.

“My first love is my wife, but my second love is the Northwood youth football program,” Brown says. “I’ve done a lot of coaching in the league, and one of the parents told me there was a former Northwood football player, now at Dunbar, locked up and charged with murder. They said he was incredibly talented, so I went out on a limb for him.”

Dorsey was being held without bail, but Brown had it reduced to $5,000, then paid it out of his own pocket. He soon convinced prosecutors they had no case against Dorsey if he wasn’t the shooter, and they released him after 28 days.

“I told him when he got out, You got a taste of that nasty jail. Now make sure you don’t ever end up back there,’ ” Brown says.

On Dec. 29, 1998, the charges were dismissed, Dorsey’s record expunged.

“I was so happy,” Garris says. “But I told him, don’t thank me, thank God. He was by your side.”

Young says the case is now considered inactive.

Passing on the goodwill

Dorsey quickly learned how hard it is to catch up after falling behind in life. The month in jail had wrecked his grades at Dunbar, so he transferred to Southern, where he played basketball and got his grades up, then transferred back to Dunbar.

Dorsey’s brilliance during football season when he accumulated 3,500 all purpose yards and scored 17 touchdowns was overshadowed by the fact that he couldn’t score higher than 840 on the SAT. With his grade point average, to qualify for the Division I A football scholarship Florida State had offered, he needed a score of 920.
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