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FOOD-SERVICE COORDINATOR MAKES THE MOST OF HIS NEW LEASE ON LIFE

SHARE FOOD-SERVICE COORDINATOR MAKES THE MOST OF HIS NEW LEASE ON LIFE

Daniel Binick could be wasting away in a Maryland prison cell this Christmas for a murder he committed in what he calls "another lifetime."

Instead, he was fixing a holiday feast Monday for about 200 people at a club in Murray for recovering alcoholics.Life is back to normal for Binick, who is proving that a Baltimore judge was right in giving him a break a year ago.

Binick is employed, happily married to an old sweetheart and is trying to get a hospitality management certificate at the University of Utah.

Last December, Binick was released from a Baltimore jail after being put on probation for a murder he committed nearly 15 years ago. The judge suspended a 30-year prison term after being persuaded that Binick was rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society.

The dramatic series of events in Binick's recent life started in March 1988. Binick - who had been living in Utah under an alias - dropped a bomb on his friends by announcing he was responsible for the March 1975 shooting death of an east Baltimore bartender.

Binick surrendered to the FBI on an outstanding capital homicide warrant, saying he was tired of running and wanted to right his past.

Before his surrender, Binick had called himself Jerry LeBaeu and was married with two stepchildren. He was active in his church, cooked meals regularly for the homeless and recovering alcoholics, and had helped form a local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous for youth.

In short, Binick - nicknamed "Bear" because of his stature - was a near saint, according to his friends. It was only natural that 200 of those friends would ask Gov. Norm Bangerter to refuse to extradite Binick to Maryland. Bangerter, however, was unable to grant the request, and Binick was extradited to Baltimore.

As part of his five years of probation, Binick must pay 20 percent of his salary to a fund for Maryland police officers killed in the line of duty, perform 500 hours of community service and live in a halfway house.

He's employed as food-service coordinator for the First Step House, a drug and alcohol recovery house in Salt Lake City.

A gentle man with a gruff voice rife with street slang and colloquialisms, Binick has already completed 105 hours of community service, speaking to kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The recipients of his message - in places such as Decker Lake Correctional Facility in Salt Lake County and Ogden's Washington High School - are often incorrigible recalcitrants who mock the idea of another speaker.

But within minutes, Binick - with his tough, no-nonsense approach - has the kids' attention.

"I think I have an effect everywhere I go. The teachers tell me the response is something they've never got before.

"These kids think that what happened to me can't happen to them. I tell them, `Don't think that, because I never thought that one day I would go out and hurt someone.' "

Binick vows not to stop talking to kids when the 500 hours are met.

Binick said drugs and alcohol were to blame for his problems. At the age of 4, he began drinking. Drugs followed at 11. And his father frequently took him to bars while Binick was still a juvenile.

Though shying away from questions about the homicide, Binick said he was on drugs when he shot and killed the bartender.