BROOKSVILLE - Jesse Robert Daily was just 17 in December 2012 when he stabbed his mother's boyfriend three times. One of the fatal jabs went 3 1?2 three and a half inches deep into David Floyd's heart, killing the 39 year old.
At 18, Daily pleaded no contest to second degree murder charges, and an open plea deal capped his sentence as 35 years in prison.
On Monday, Daily, now 19, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by Circuit Judge Stephen Toner. Daily will serve 25 years probation after his release.
"As you stand before me, you are but a very young man, not much more, in my opinion, than a baby," Toner said. "You have mental health issues ... there is no easy answer, there is no easy fix."
After imposing Daily's sentence, Toner reminded him he has hope, and will "see the light of day again," unlike many prisoners in Florida serving second-degree murder sentences.
Members of Daily and Floyd's families testified during the four-hour hearing.
Patricia Floyd, the mother of the victim, said her family was requesting the maximum penalty of 35 years so Floyd's 8-year-old daughter, who witnessed her father's death, would not have to live in fear of him getting out of prison for the next three decades.
Floyd called Daily's "decision" to take the life of her only son "unimaginable."
"Our family is forever broken," Floyd said.
David Floyd's two sisters, Donna Ulrich and Deborah Bensley, testified as well.
A sheriff's office investigation showed Jesse Daily was lying next to Floyd on the ground outside their shared home at 10036 Hayes St. when law enforcement arrived on scene on Dec. 9, 2012 .
The first sheriff's deputy, Lauren Johnson, wrote in her report that a neighbor was applying pressure to Floyd's wounds as he "gasped" to breathe, covered in blood.
Daily lay near Floyd on the ground, crying, Johnson wrote in her report.
A probable cause affidavit shows Daily and Floyd were in a verbal fight that turned physical when Daily punched Floyd in the mouth, and Floyd restrained Daily.
Floyd told his girlfriend's son to take a walk and calm down, but Daily returned a short while later and grabbed two kitchen knives and started swinging them at Floyd.
Floyd picked up chair to defend himself, a report shows, but Daily stabbed him three times in the chest.
He was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Oak Hill Hospital.
A portion of the attack was witnessed by Floyd's daughter and Daily's two younger brothers.
"Jesse tried to stab my Daddy," the girl, named Katia, later told sheriff's Det. Bryan Faulkingham. She also said she heard Daily say "I'm going to stab you" to Floyd.
Numerous members of Daily's family testified during the hearing, describing him as a quiet but happy child until he became ill with what was later diagnosed as schizophrenia around age 15.
Daily's family rallied around him, said his aunt, Joie Morey, after he started withdrawing into himself.
The family, who feared Jesse would harm himself, made sure an adult was always around.
"We didn't want him to feel alone or be alone," Morey said.
Morey said Daily spent a lot of time at her house, around her young children. Daily was "always kind to them," Morey said, reading to them or watching cartoons, even when they pulled his hair or asked repetitive questions.
Morey, who has a bachelor's in psychology and is working toward a master's degree in the field, said Daily was interested in learning more about his illness, heavily researched it and looked for techniques to help keep him calm.
One of his coping skills was going for long walks, Morey and other family members said.
"I've never seen anyone suffer through anything like I saw Jessie suffer through this," Robert Daily said of his son's illness. "You kind of see it coming on when he's going to have an episode, he'll start tapping uncontrollably, walking around in circles, then he'd punch himself in the face, repeatedly. It was some scary, scary stuff, and as a father, you just want to hug him and make him feel better but you can't do that, because for him, it's the worst thing ever."
Daily's mother, Judy Daily, said she "did everything" the doctors told her to do once she got her son medical help, and that Daily took an active role, even consenting to being involuntarily committed instead of waiting three months for a doctor's appointment.
Dr. Peter Bursten, a clinical and forensic psychologist who evaluated Daily for the defense, said Daily was "not legally insane" at the time of the incident.
Bursten described Daily as a "bright kid" and "personable young man" who had low self-esteem, felt like a failure and displaced in his family, all while living with schizophrenia as an adolescent.
"Things he was experiencing at that time got the better of him," Bursten said. "He had a hard time of controlling his anger, the conflict between he and the victim happened at the wrong time."
Bursten recommended Daily be placed in a prison facility with a "mental health camp," where he could receive more intensive treatment and be housed with other prisoners with mental health issues, which Toner eventually recommended.
Prosecutor Bill Catto agreed Daily needs mental health treatment while incarcerated, and advised Toner the state would like to see Daily in prison for the next 30-35 years.
"The concern is you can't predict the risk. Everything was going as about as well as the Daily family could possibly have done for this young man and yet someone is deceased," Catto said.
Daily's defense attorney, David Bauer, said Daily is different from many of the people he deals with "in the system," and said he didn't see the "risk" Daily posed to society that should send him to prison for 30 years.
After the hearing, Floyd's mother and sister said they were happy with the sentence, and that it was time to begin the healing process after 14 months of pain.
Daily's family declined to speak after the hearing. Joie Morey, Daily's aunt, later sent a statement on behalf of the family, saying the sentence "came as unhappy shock," and they hope the Department of Corrections follow the court's recommendation.
"We also greatly sympathize with David Floyd's family. While we did not have the level of relationship with David that his mother and sisters did, he was a part of our family, as was his daughter. In one horribly tragic instant, my sister lost the man she loved, her oldest son, and all contact with David's little girl, whom she loved as a daughter. We lost pieces of our family that day, too, and nothing can ever make this right for any of us, including for Katia and the rest of David's family."