Inmate convicted of manslaughter in fatal attack of MCSO officer at Phoenix jail
May 1, 2023, 4:51 PM
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX — An inmate was convicted of manslaughter Monday after fatally attacking a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detention employee nearly four years ago.
Daniel Davitt, 62, faces between 15-30 years in prison in the October 2019 death of officer Gene Lee.
Davitt grabbed Lee by the throat without warning on Oct. 29 and kicked his feet out from under him at Lower Buckeye Jail, authorities said. 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.
Lee, a six-year veteran of MCSO, died a day after the attack. He was 64.
“Officer Lee’s family is grateful for a resolution and appreciative of all in the community who have shown their love and support throughout the last 3 1/2 years,” Sheriff Paul Penzone said in a statement.
Prior to the attack, Davitt had been in county custody for two years pending charges for sex crimes involving children.
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.
Davitt could face an additional 30 years in prison because of past convictions.
He will be sentenced on June 2.