A Winston-Salem man was convicted in a near-fatal shooting that happened two years ago in the midst of two separate altercations that began outside Bongos nightclub on North Cherry Street.
Marvin Jonathan Toney Jr., 29, of Bohannon Park Circle, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Forsyth Superior Court to one count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Winston-Salem police had initially charged Toney with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. As part of a plea arrangement, Toney entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge, and Forsyth County prosecutors accepted a mitigating factor that he accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct.
Judge J. Stanley Carmical of Forsyth Superior Court gave Toney a suspended sentence of one year and eight months to three years in prison and placed him on two years of supervised probation. Toney will have to serve an active sentence of three months in jail.
The shooting happened just after 2 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2017. Bongos, a nightclub that plays Latin music, had just closed for the night. This incident had been the third shooting over that weekend. No one was killed in any of the shootings.
Assistant District Attorney Ben White said that a woman was arguing with some unidentified person in the area around Bongos. Then in the parking deck directly across from Bongos, another altercation among a large group of people broke out, White said.
Winston-Salem police officers were called to the disturbance and as they were in the elevator headed to the fifth floor, they heard a dispatcher issue a report about a shooting there, White said.
The officers found Daniel Soberanis Sanchez, who was 21 at the time, with a gunshot wound to his lower back. White said the injury was critical and that Sanchez was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. He almost died, he said.
After Sanchez was released from the hospital, he had to go back because of a life-threatening infection.
Witnesses gave conflicting statements about what led to the shooting, White said. But one of Sanchez’s friends identified Toney as the shooter. Other witnesses who had nothing to do with the altercations also identified Toney as the one who went into the trunk of a car, pulled out a handgun and started firing, White said.
One witness told Winston-Salem police that she saw Toney running toward a group of men and that she tried to get him to put the gun down. She told police Toney brushed her off and fired the gun.
White said witnesses indicated that White fired once in the air, a second time toward the ground and then at least a third time, pointing toward a group of people.
George Cleland, Toney’s attorney, said that Toney was not involved in any of the altercations at Bongos or in the parking deck. Toney was driving to Winston-Salem from Greensboro when he got a call from a female friend. The woman told Toney to come pick her up, Cleland said.
When Toney arrived, he found out one of his friends was involved in an altercation in the parking deck and went to help. That friend, Lavaughnte Smith, 24, had the gun, and it was Toney who got the gun away from Smith, Cleland said in court.
Toney later fired the gun because he was in fear for his life, he said.
Smith was charged with misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun, but that charge was voluntarily dismissed in 2017. White said witnesses would not come into court to testify.
White said witnesses told police that Smith put the gun back in the trunk of a car and that Toney then retrieved the gun from that same car trunk.
Toney told Carmical that he realizes he made a mistake and that his only concern right now is to serve whatever time he gets and return to his children.
White said Sanchez is doing fine, but that Toney was very close to facing a murder charge because of his actions.
“I hope he never goes anywhere near a gun because a gun has one purpose and that’s to kill people,” he said.