GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – For Daphanie Joiner, every day since April 28 has been a blessing.
It has been almost three months since she was shot by her former boyfriend of eight years, Theo Little, prior to his violent crime spree that same day. Now, ready to be released from the hospital, Joiner is six months sober and focused on beating her drug addiction.
“It is a battle,” said Joiner, “but I’m trying to stay clean for my son. Everything that I’m doing now is for him.”
Joiner and Little’s four-year-old son was the topic of discussion minutes before the shooting took place, she says. CPS had taken him the day before and Joiner, deciding she wanted to make a change in her life, told Little she wanted him out of the apartment the two shared.
“He didn’t say anything,” said Joiner. “He was ironing his clothes, took a shower and everything. (But he came back) and he has a pillow in the bathroom, and it’s balled up. And he was looking at me and I’m just like, ‘this man has a gun, this man has a gun.’”
Little followed Joiner into the next room, where Joiner began to expect the worst.
“I guess he was expecting me to say something, like plead. But I didn’t,” she said. “I just closed my eyes and in my mind I was thinking ‘get it over with.’”
Little shot Joiner once in her neck with a .45 caliber handgun, leaving her on the floor before embarking on his crime spree.
“I think maybe he thought that I was dead,” said Joiner.
But she wasn’t. Joiner was able to crawl to a neighbor’s door, calling the police and emergency officials who eventually saved her life. Now, not wanting to go back to the apartment where it all happened, Joiner is focusing on finding room at a shelter, completing her rehab, and getting her son back. Explaining the situation to her four-year-old is a task she, admittedly, is dreading.
“I hate his father for leaving me with this responsibility,” she said. “To have to look that little boy in his face and tell him he won’t be able to see his father again – that isn’t something that I want.”
Little was sentenced to 25 years minimum and 75 years maximum for charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, criminal sexual conduct, and felony firearms. Joiner says it’s punishment that doesn’t fit the crime.
“I don’t feel that that was fair,” she said. “He should’ve gotten life. I didn’t want him anymore, that’s why he really did it. He was angry. It’s what you call 'dangerously in love'.”