BROOKSVILLE — Jesse Robert Daily was nine days shy of his 18th birthday when he plunged a knife into the chest of his mother's boyfriend a year ago.
On Monday, a judge sentenced Daily to 30 years in state prison for the death of 39-year-old David A. Floyd Jr. It was five years less than the maximum term Daily faced as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
"I understand you have a conscience," Hernando Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner Jr. told Daily before announcing the sentence. "That seems very apparent to me, and I'm sure it will be difficult on your conscience to deal with the death that you've caused and the harm you've caused."
Daily, 19, pleaded no contest in October to second-degree murder as an adult offender. He faced life in prison if convicted at trial.
On Dec. 9, 2012, Daily and Floyd got into an argument at the house in Spring Hill where they lived with Daily's mother. Daily punched Floyd in the face, prosecutors say, and Floyd told Daily to take a walk to cool off.
When Daily returned, the two began to argue again. Daily grabbed two kitchen knives and Floyd picked up a chair to defend himself. Daily charged and stabbed Floyd in the chest multiple times. Daily's two younger brothers and Floyd's daughter Katia, who spent weekends there, witnessed the stabbing.
Assistant State Attorney Bill Catto asked Toner to sentence Daily to at least 30 years in prison.
"There's always going to be the possibility that something could happen, that something could set him off," Catto said. "You can't predict the risk."
Assistant Public Defender David Bauer asked for 10 years at a prison site where Daily can receive mental health treatment, followed by 25 years of probation.
"I don't think that sending this young man to prison for the next 30 to 35 years is going to benefit Jesse or society in any way, shape or form," Bauer said.
Daily's parents and other family members told Toner that he used to be a sociable boy who loved to ride his skateboard. At the age of 15, he became withdrawn and complained about voices in his head. He cut himself and punched himself in the face.
After a diagnosis of schizophrenia and depression, medications and therapy sessions helped quell episodes of agitation. Judy Daily said her son never did anything to indicate he would hurt anyone but himself.
"I know he has to go away, but what I want and what he wants is help," Judy Daily told Toner.
Peter Bursten, a Tampa psychologist who evaluated Daily and testified for the defense, said the teen's mental illness left him feeling alienated and inadequate.
"I think he projected all of that, very unfortunately, on the victim in this case," Bursten said.
Floyd's mother and two older sisters recalled Floyd as a dedicated father who loved to joke around and had a passion for science. They lamented that Floyd would not see Katia, who was 7 when her father died, get married or have his grandchildren. They pleaded with Toner to give Daily the maximum penalty.
"If the defendant is capable of such a heinous act when he is surrounded by people who loved him and tried to care for him," said sister Donna Ulrich, "I can't imagine what he will be capable of now that my brother's no longer here to help care for him upon his release."
Daily put his head in his hands several times during the hearing. He did not speak.
Toner told Daily he took his age and mental health into account. He recommended that the teen be housed at a site that offers mental health treatment.
"You will see the light of day again," the judge said. "There is hope."
Patricia Floyd, the victim's mother, said she was happy with the ruling.
"He tore our family apart," she said. "I'm a very forgiving person, but not this time. That was my only boy."