Man who sexually abused child for years found guilty, sentenced to Life in prison

A Panama City man who sexually abused a child for years was found guilty of two capital felonies Wednesday and given 2 consecutive Life sentences, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

David Lee Searcy, 61, was found guilty Wednesday afternoon of two counts of Sexual Battery on a Child Under the Age of 12. The charge is a Capital Felony, meaning it carries a mandatory Life sentence. Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson ordered the Life sentence on each charge to be consecutive, or one after the other.

Prosecutor Dustin Miller gives his opening statement as Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson observes.

The defendant was charged with sexually abusing the victim over a period of years, starting when she was about 2 years old.

“Given the circumstances and facts of this case, even if I had the discretion of a lesser sentence, this is the appropriate sentence in this case,” Judge Stephenson told the defendant.

After lead Prosecutor Dustin Miller and Prosecutor Josh James presented evidence and testimony, including from the victim, the 6-person jury reached its verdict in about 30 minutes.

RELATED NEWS: Man who sexually battered teen sentenced to Life

RELATED NEWS: Drinkard guilty of murder

Miller praised the casework by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. He especially cited the victim’s courage in testifying.

“She had to live for years knowing that any day might be another one where she would get abused,” Miller said. “She had no one she knew of to turn to for a lifeline.

“Today she took the power back into her own hands when she told her truth on the stand,” he continued. “She’s the reason the State was able to get a guilty verdict and get justice for her.”

Testimony and evidence showed the victim was sexually abused repeatedly by the defendant and was too terrified at the time to say anything.

The defendant on the opening day of the 2-day trial.
The defendant after the verdict was read.

“I was scared,” she testified. “I was scared he was going to hurt me.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and GCCAC for their work on the case and assistance in holding the defendant accountable.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.