Danton to remain jailed; trial set for July 20

Updated: May 7, 2004, 8:19 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Mike Danton of the St. Louis Blues plotted to kill his agent for at least six months and tried on at least three occasions to hire a hit man, prosecutors said Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Massey confirmed for the first time that agent David Frost was Danton's intended victim. Frost had repeatedly denied reports he was the target, and did so again Friday.

"If the government wants to hang their hat there, that's up to them," Frost said in a telephone interview. "I am absolutely positive I was not the target."

During a detention hearing Friday, Massey said the evidence in the case "is strong."

"We have multiple taped conversations where the defendant is speaking to the confidential informant, in which it is clear" that Danton was arranging a murder for hire, Massey said.

U.S. Magistrate Clifford Proud ordered Danton, who was arrested April 16, to remain jailed and set trial for July 20.

The FBI's criminal complaint said Danton was concerned that his intended target planned to go to the Blues with information that could damage his career.

Frost has said Danton was delusional and was using painkillers and sleeping pills in the hours before he allegedly tried to hire the hit man.

Danton's attorney, Bob Haar, had asked Proud to assign Danton to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation and treatment of an injured shoulder.

Massey, however, said Danton was a flight risk who fled to an airport when the FBI tried to arrest him at the team hotel in San Jose, Calif. Haar said his client simply wanted to fly to St. Louis and turn himself in.

Danton's mother, brother and aunt sat directly behind him in the courtroom, but he did not acknowledge them. A native of Brampton, Ontario, Danton has been estranged from his family for several years, and legally changed his last name from Jefferson two years ago.

"Hopefully he gets the help he needs," said Danton's mother, Sue Jefferson. His younger brother, Tom, added: "I just hope that everything works out for him."

Four of Danton's teammates -- Keith Tkachuk, Barret Jackman, Ryan Johnson and Bryce Salvador -- also attended. They left without comment.

Danton's alleged accomplice, 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer, of suburban St. Louis, is free on $100,000 bond. Her trial is scheduled to begin July 13.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press