NEW PORT RICHEY — Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa on Wednesday rejected a defendant's bid to dismiss 2004 charges of aggravated assault against law enforcement officers. But the judge did set a new trial date for J.J. Daiak, whose conviction was overturned in 2014 but has already served almost half of his 20-year prison sentence.
Daiak, now 63, was asleep in his Holiday house on Sept. 5, Labor Day, when Hurricane Frances hit the region. He said he heard voices outside and, fearing they were looters, fired two shots toward the door to scare them away. They weren't looters, however, but four Pasco sheriff's deputies investigating an earlier report of a domestic disturbance at the house.
Daiak was tried in 2006 on charges of aggravated assault of law enforcement officers, convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. But last year the conviction was overturned on the grounds that Daiak had received ineffective assistance of counsel. Daiak was granted the right to a new trial.
He came to court Wednesday hoping to have the charges thrown out altogether. He had filed two motions to dismiss the charges prior to the hearing: one on the grounds that the gunshots didn't constitute assault on the deputies, and one on the grounds that the deputies illegally entered his home when they opened his screen door.
But Siracusa denied both motions, and set the new trial date for March 7.