Man convicted of killing Maricopa County detention officer sentenced to 33 years in prison

Daniel Davitt has been sentenced to over 30 years in prison for the death of Maricopa County...
Daniel Davitt has been sentenced to over 30 years in prison for the death of Maricopa County detention officer Gene "Jim" Lee.(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 1:39 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A man convicted of manslaughter in an attack that left a Maricopa County detention officer dead has been sentenced to decades in prison.

On Friday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge sentenced 63-year-old Daniel Davitt to spend 33 years behind bars for killing 64-year-old Officer Gene “Jim” Lee over three years ago. On Oct. 29, 2019, Davitt attacked Lee by choking him and sweeping his legs out from under him at the Lower Buckeye Jail. Lee hit the floor head-first and lost consciousness. He died the next day at a hospital.

During the sentencing hearing, the judge called Lee’s death a “senseless act.” While the court was expected to sentence Davitt to 15-30 years in prison, the judge sentenced him to 33 years due to the aggravated circumstances of the crime. Davitt gets credit for 1,240 days (over three years) of time already served.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a statement, “Officer Gene Lee was a public servant who devoted his life to protecting our community. It is a travesty for his life to have ended in this way, and I can only imagine the depths of the sorrow his family is experiencing. I am grateful to the judge for imposing a lengthy sentence, and am grateful to the people in my office who worked relentlessly to bring his attacker to justice.”

At the time of the attack, Davitt was jailed on child molestation charges. He was convicted of those crimes last September.

Officer Lee, a six-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor in Jan. 2020 for dedication to his job.

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