ST. LOUIS -- Former Blues center Mike Danton's bizarre saga, in which he served time in a murder-for-hire plot in 2004, is about to take a new twist. He says in an interview set to air Tuesday night on ESPN that his target was not the one alleged by the FBI.
Danton spent almost five years in jail for a failed scheme in which the FBI said the intended victim was David Frost, who had been Danton's agent, former coach and surrogate father. But Danton says on the "E:60" program that the man he wanted killed was his father, Steve Jefferson--whom Danton says was abusive when Danton was young.
The case generated many tabloid-type headlines and created waves locally as well as in Danton's native Canada.
Danton was arrested in San Jose, Calif., shortly after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs in April 2004, and had used a 19-year-old woman he had known for only a short time to find a hit man. The person she lined up turned out to be a man who worked for the Columbia, Ill., police department, and that led to the arrest of Danton and the woman.
Authorities had said Danton thought Frost was going to hurt his career by taking concerns of excessive drinking and promiscuity to the team, thus prompting the scheme.
But when Danton pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit interstate murder for hire in July 2004, he did not identify the intended target, and U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl addressed him in an East St. Louis courtroom.
"The exact reason or reasons why you felt you had to engage in this murder plot remain a mystery to me," Stiehl said then. "In over 18 years on the bench I have (never) been faced with a case as bizarre as this one."
Danton, who in 2002 legally changed his name from Mike Jefferson, says, "I hate(d) my situation at home" in the piece that airs during the program, which begins at 6 p.m.
Danton then is asked specifically by interviewer Jeremy Schaap, "Who did you try to kill?"
Danton pauses before responding, "Um, Steve Jefferson."
Frost also appears on the show for what ESPN says is his first interview on the topic since 2004.
Danton "was never in any situation he didn't want to be in," Frost says.
Jefferson in the past has accused Frost of manipulating Danton and denies in the piece that he was abusive toward his son and says, "I'd like to take a baseball bat and beat (Frost). Good chance it'll happen one day."
ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu said Monday that the Danton feature lasts about 18 minutes but it hadn't been determined where it will air in the hour-long program, which has three other segments.