David Jamichael Daniels, 22, was sentenced on Friday to seven consecutive life sentences for shooting and injuring seven people at a spring break house party last year. In January, he was convicted of seven counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting into an occupied building.
On March 28, 2015, more than 100 people were at a party that centered around two condo units in Panama City Beach, Florida. Sometime during the evening, a fight broke out allegedly involving Daniels and he started shooting up the place.
When emergency responders arrived at the units on Thomas Drive, they found three victims inside, one outside in front, another in the street, and two across the street.
At least three of the wounded partygoers were Alabama A&M University students, while three others were from Mobile, Alabama. Three of Daniels’ victims were critically injured, including one who was shot in the head.
Daniels, AKA “Boosie,” was quickly identified as the suspect and arrested shortly after the house party shooting. A.40-calibur Smith and Wesson weapon was recovered by police near the crime scene.
During interviews with police, Daniels admitted to smoking synthetic marijuana, commonly known as “Spice,” prior to the shooting. Initially, Daniels said he wasn’t involved.
“I didn’t shoot nobody,” he said. “I don’t even have a gun.”
Later, Daniels changed his story and claimed he only fired twice, supposedly at another individual who shot at him first. He stated that he bought a gun in Mobile, Alabama, and brought it with him to Panama City. After interviewing several witnesses at the spring break house party, it was determined that Daniels was the only shooter.
After a three day trial two months ago, David Jamichael Daniels was found guilty on all counts of attempted murder. A lot of evidence, including Daniels’ clothes, the weapon, as well as audio and video interviews of Daniels after being arrested were shown to the jury. Over 20 witnesses described the events of that night, including several of the victims.
Kearria Freed, who lost the use of one side of her body in the house party shooting, wrote a letter to jurors.
“Although what has happened to me cannot be undone, I would truly not want anyone else in my shoes. People should be able to go on vacation without worrying about their safety and if they will see another day due to the senseless acts of others.”
Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford was pleased with the jury’s decision.
“He almost killed seven people. That’s the reason he’s guilty as charged. We hope this verdict will serve notice that the people in this community will not tolerate this type of violence in Florida.”
Daniels’ defense attorney, Matthew Meredith, argued the sentence was too harsh. He contended the degree of injuries did not warrant life in prison. Although he did agree the lives of the seven victims were changed forever, he objected to the ruling that they suffered tremendous harm and asked the court for a sentence of 25 years.
Daniels has several previous nonviolent convictions, including gambling, drug possession, and violation of probation, most of which are in his hometown of Mobile. At the time of the shooting, Daniels was out on bond for drug possession.
As reported by Local 15 News, Panama City officials took a tough stance against violence after the spring break shooting. The incident, coupled with an alleged rape on the beach caught on surveillance camera, enraged local authorities and motivated them to take action.
Bay County Commissioners and City Council members enacted new rules governing alcohol consumption on the beach and the hours of operation for clubs and bars. However, these comprehensive changes led to a dramatically lower number of spring breakers visiting the city in 2016.
Circuit Judge James Fensom ruled on Friday that David Jamichael Daniels will now spend the rest of his natural life in jail for the spring break house party shooting. In addition to the life sentences, he also received a 15-year sentence for shooting into an occupied dwelling.
[Photo by AP Photo/Bill Kaczor]