Dahlia Bryan barely lived to tell her story. She was stabbed six times by Curtis Moorley -- the father of three of her children.
Moorley is in the United States with a green card. He was born in Trinidad and Tobago. After the brutal knife assault, Bryan was certain he would be deported.
The ordeal began in July 2012. She and Moorley had been arguing at their Hartford home because Bryan had a male friend over. She said, without notice, Moorley attacked.
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“By the time I had really realized what had taken place, there was a knife at my throat,” Bryan said, fighting back tears.
The children were in the home during those terrifying moments, but they were unharmed. Bryan was rushed St. Francis Hospital, where doctors described her conditions as “critical” with “life threatening injuries.”
“The doctor said he doesn’t understand why I’m alive because those injuries should have killed me,” Bryan explained.
The wounds run deep, both physically and mentally. She showed us graphic pictures of the lacerations held together by staples and stitches.
“That’s one of the defense stab wounds I had on my arm,” Dahlia explained. “And that’s the one in my back, that’s the first one I received.”
These days, she goes about life trying to feel normal but the painful details of that terrible night are always with her.
“I still struggle on a daily basis from the injuries that I have to this day,” she said.
She also struggles with the fear that Moorley will attack her again.
He was let out of prison after serving four years. The prosecution cut him a deal that reduced his original charge of attempted murder to assault in the first degree, which is still a felony.
“From what I was told by the prosecutor, he would be deported after he served the maximum time allowed on his sentence,” said Bryan.
But when Moorley got out on special parole this past January, he was released right back into Hartford -- not to immigration.
“Where did it go wrong?” Bryan asked. “What’s going on here?”
According to court transcripts, during the sentencing, Moorley’s own attorney said, “We do anticipate that this will result in Mr. Moorley’s deportation. ”
We reached out to the States Attorney’s office and they declined an interview, but an official told us they reported Moorley’s crime to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), when it first happened. They also said the prosecutor, judge, Moorley’s his own attorney and even he believed he would be deported.
A spokesperson for ICE told us it’s the state’s fault they couldn’t deport Moorley.
He declined to go on camera, but said in an email that because Moorley has a Green Card and the charges were substituted down from attempted murder to a class B felony, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is precluded from pursuing removal charges. The final conviction does not reach the standard required for the individual to be placed in immigration proceedings.“
Yet, according to a 2014 memo from the Department of Homeland Security, the #2 priority removal enforcement includes:
“Aliens convicted of a "significant misdemeanor" including “domestic violence” or “sentenced to time of 90 days or more”
“He wanted to kill me,” said Bryan. “No doubt about it.”
Karen Jarmoc. with Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. said she has contacted ICE personally to try to have violent domestic assaulters deported, but her concerns fall on seemingly deaf ears.
“ICE is not acting on that opportunity,” said Jarmoc. “They are almost trying to think of every reason why the offender should be able to stay, as opposed to why this is risky and harmful to a victim who is here as a U.S. citizen.”
Jarmoc also said that when the perpetrators aren’t deported, it empowers them and emboldens them to strike again.
“Victims of domestic violence are being threatened and harmed by individuals who are either here on a Green Card or not here legally and yet it seems to be a passive approach by ICE in terms of just a lack of initiative to address this,” said Jarmoc.
With ICE blaming the state, and the State of Connecticut saying it’s up to ICE to act, Bryan and people like her are caught in the middle.
We asked Bryan what was her biggest fear.
“That one day I am going to find him outside my doors,” said Bryan.
Just days after the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters' interview with Bryan, she said Moorley showed up at her home. She wasn’t there, but her children were.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters further pressed the State’s Attorney’s office about this case and they took Moorley back in custody for allegedly violating a no contact order for Bryan. They are now asking ICE to review his case.