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Suspect in death of Phoenix jail officer charged with 2nd-degree murder

Daniel Davitt (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX – A grand jury has indicted the inmate accused of fatally attacking a Phoenix jail detention officer last year for second-degree murder, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Officer Gene Lee died Oct. 30, a day after he was allegedly attacked by Daniel Davitt at the Lower Buckeye Jail.

Davitt, 59, faces a sentence of 25 years to life if convicted on the class 1 felony charge.

He was ordered to be held on a $1 million bond, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Authorities said Davitt grabbed Lee by the throat without warning and kicked his feet out from under him. Lee landed headfirst on the concrete and lost consciousness.

He immediately received medical attention and was taken to a hospital, but he never regained consciousness.

According to charging documents, the entire incident was captured on video.

Davitt had been in county custody for two years pending charges for sex crimes involving children.

Lee, who was 64, was a six-year veteran of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the posse before becoming a full-time employee.

After the attack, Sheriff Paul Penzone said he would do everything he could to ensure that Davitt is convicted and “sees the longest sentence practical.”

Davitt had filed a civil rights complaint against Lee two months before the deadly incident, which led to speculation he might be charged with first-degree murder because of premeditation.

His lawsuit said he’s needed mental health treatment for PTSD symptoms caused by Lee staring at him for 10-15 seconds. MCSO found Davitt’s complaints unsubstantiated.

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