Sheriff Rick Staly was clearly and explicitly appalled with having to call Danial G. Marashi a “victim” of the home-invasion and shooting on Dec. 29 at 8 Regent Lane in Palm Coast. He had no interest in being diplomatic about it. He called Marashi a “drug dealer” or a “drug dealer-victim” no fewer than 13 times in a 15-minute press conference this morning, and left no doubt that he wished he could have been prosecuted.
Staly was briefing media for the first time in person since Friday’s report here of the arrests of Kwentel Lakelvrick Moultrie, 23, and Moultrie’s girlfriend Taylor Manjarres, 19, both of Palm Coast, on charges of second degree murder and armed burglary in the shooting death of Zaire Roberts, 23, at the Regent Lane home, which belongs to Marashi’s parents. Marashi was using his parents’ home to conduct a drug deal, Staly said.
As detailed in an account on Sunday, Moultrie, Manjarres and Roberts had planned to rob him. Roberts confronted Marashi with a gun, Marashi defended himself, first physically batting Zaire’s gun away then shooting and killing Roberts with “multiple rounds,” though not before Roberts shot Marashi twice. (See: “Resident Involved in Drug Deal Gone Bad Killed Zaire Roberts After Getting Shot, Reports Show.”)
Staly crafts his press conferences around prepared texts, as he did today, but almost invariably speaks more earnestly when he gets off his script–as he did today: “This was a very difficult case made more difficult because the home invasion drug dealer victim–and I really hate to call him a victim, because if he wasn’t a drug dealer, this home invasion would have never occurred,” Staly said, referring to Marashi, whose name he never spoke.
Marashi “was not immediately forthcoming with detectives, probably because he didn’t want us to know what his illegal occupation was,” the sheriff continued. “Detectives had to use all investigative means at their disposal to get him to confirm what we already knew. He was a drug dealer, and this was a drug ripoff home invasion.” Staly said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, in effect since 2005 b(the law, when invoked, allows an individual to shoot an assailant to kill, or use deadly force, without having to retreat, if the individual is in his or her own home or property.
Staly became even more explicit: “This crime only occurred because the victim was a drug dealer. I wish we could charge him because if he was not selling drugs, this crime likely would not have occurred.” Staly spoke with State Attorney R.J. Larizza about it, obviously seeking a way to charge Marashi: a person may not invoke Stand Your Ground when committing a criminal act, as Marashi is alleged to have been doing. So that law is moot in this case. Still, he could not be charged.
The sheriff referred to the Castle Doctrine part of the Stand Your Ground law that inside one’s house, “you have the right to defend yourself.” But Marashi remains “a victim slash witness. And we need his testimony to get to put the other two devils in prison,” he said. “So you have to kind of gauge where you’re going to go. And we need to to that we arrested sent away for a long time.” He stressed that “there’s been no deal made at all,” though deals, if deals there are, are made by the State Attorney’s Office.
“All I can say is sometimes in law enforcement you have to dance with the devil to get the other devils involved in a crime,” Staly said. “This is the disgusting part of our job and the criminal justice system. But it’s a stark reality.” He summed up the breadth of the investigation, which involved numerous detectives, work hours and investigative means, and rejected the claim that marijuana lessens the gravity or violence of criminal activity. “Well, this is what happens with just marijuana,” he said. “Illegal activity often attracts and breeds other criminal activity, like home invasions, drive by shootings, or in this case, a murder, and destroys the quality of life in a neighborhood for law abiding citizens.”
The sheriff had no forgiving words for Roberts, either, recalling his own criminal history and recent release from state prison, where he’d served a seven-year sentence for shooting of Philip Haire in the L Section in 2015. (Haire, who is now himself serving 25 years in prison for shooting at his own father and a law enforcement officer, had pleaded with the judge not to give Roberts 25 years.) “He served only five years and the state system let him out,” Staly said. “Maybe if he’d served his whole seven years he’d be alive today.” In fact, Roberts served almost six years, including the nearly full year he served in jail before his sentence, and was let out under the state’s gain-time law, routinely applied since 1889. It enables the system to forgive 15 percent of a prisoner’s sentence for good behavior in most cases.
Roberts died at the scene, though initially the sheriff would not confirm that report. “Many of you questioned why we initially withheld that information, which I agree is unusual,” Staly said. “This was an investigative tactic to keep the suspects and their friends guessing and active on social media platforms during the New Year’s holiday, that we were monitoring. And frankly, this tactic worked.” The suspects weren’t sure whether Roberts had been killed, he said.
Marashi commanded more attention than the two suspects during the brief news conference. Asked by a reporter whether Marahsi would be under surveillance, Staly said he would not answer that particular question. If that wasn’t a clear enough answer in itself (“I’m not going to talk about a possible or future investigations”), the rest of his response made it clear enough: He has “certainly brought himself to our attention” going forward.
Marashi also brought himself to Volusia County law enforcement’s attention repeatedly over the past few years, with misdemeanor and felony charges, the last time just two weeks before the Dec. 29 shooting. He claimed on Dec. 16 to Daytona Beach police that his neighbor had attacked him. The neighbor provided video footage that discredited Marashi’s claim. It was Marashi who was charged with criminal mischief and stalking/harassment.
In 2019 he was involved in a confrontation with a woman after allegedly almost backing into her car. According to his arrest report at the time, he called her a name, threw his drink in her face and drove away. She followed him to his house and asked him why he’d thrown the drink in her face. He allegedly flashed his gun, tucked in his waistband, and she drove off. The aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge was subsequently dropped.