Burglar who attacked car sentenced to prison

A Panama City man convicted last month of breaking into another man’s garage and smashing the windshield of a car with a hammer has been sentenced to prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Circuit Court Judge Brandon Young sentenced Lee Daniels, 36, to 10 years in prison for Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling and 5 years in prison for Criminal Mischief ($1,000 or greater). Judge Young ordered the sentences to be served concurrently, and they will be followed by 5 years’ probation.

Prosecutors Dustin Miller and Nicole Reed presented evidence and two witnesses – the victim and Panama City Police Detective Matthew Kelly – proving that the defendant committed a burglary when he entered the victim’s garage to vandalize his car with a hammer.

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Miller told jurors during his closing argument that, by law, an attached garage is part of a home and has the same protections.

After the trial, Miller explained that an open garage door is no more an invitation to enter than is the open front door of a home.

“Just because you open your garage door, it does not make your house or garage open to the public,” Miller said. “It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense. Your garage door being open doesn’t change the nature of your home, it’s still your dwelling.”

Basford thanked Kelly, the Panama City Police Department, and other witnesses and neighbors who were prepared to testify if needed.

For additional information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.