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Former Duluth officer Dailey found guilty on nine counts

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Like everyone affected by Jay Dailey's actions on Feb. 1, 2008, Paul Phillips remains puzzled as to why the sworn police officer lashed out in violence as brutal as it was bizarre.

Dailey's weeklong trial, which concluded Friday with his conviction on several high-level felonies, did little to sculpt answers for Phillips and his family.

"I still don't quite understand, and I probably never will," Phillips said outside the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, his wife, Stephanie, at his side. "No officer who takes his oath to heart could ever (attack citizens)."

Jurors returned a guilty verdict on nine of 11 counts Dailey faced for his rampage on Sugar Hill's otherwise tranquil Level Creek Road. His sentencing is scheduled for July 13.

Phillips' career as a corporal with Fulton County police was cut short when Dailey shot him in the left arm, shredding it from biceps to forearm. He called the jury's decisions "appropriate."

Jurors found that Dailey indeed shot Phillips, pointed his handgun at two passing motorists and pepper-sprayed motorist Leresa Graham, who was on her way to work when Dailey, having wrecked his car, flagged her down.

The other drivers, Barry Smith and Charles Sheldt, both pointed out Dailey in court as the man who intentionally drew his weapon on them before they swiftly drove away.

Jurors returned not guilty verdicts on counts of battery and possession of a weapon that involved Graham. Dailey's defense argued she was blinded by pepper-spray and couldn't have seen a weapon or accurately recalled what occurred.

Dailey was convicted of aggravated assault upon a peace officer, aggravated assault (two counts), possession of a firearm (three counts), terroristic threats, battery and simple battery. The latter charge had been downgraded from aggravated assault -- often called Georgia's equivalent to attempted murder -- against Graham.

The first charge alone carries a sentence between five and 20 years, should a judge rule that Phillips -- who wore police attire and was in his marked cruiser but was off duty -- was engaged in his official duties.

"We knew before we got here this was just limiting the damage," said Dailey's attorney, Jeff Sliz, in reference to the trial. "There wasn't an issue about if he'd get convicted or not."

Pressed by reporters outside the courthouse, Dailey's wife, Mikaela Dailey, said she was, "sad ... for everybody" before walking away.

"She's hung tough," said Sliz of Dailey's spouse. "She's had every opportunity to leave him."

Sliz anticipates he'll appeal Dailey's convictions on aggravated assault charges related to Sheldt and Smith, but not against Phillips. He said a mental health exam prepared by the state -- and a private one put together by the defense -- could factor in to sentencing.

District Attorney Danny Porter, who made a rare prosecutorial appearance for the trial, was pleased with the outcome.

"We're happy with the verdict and appreciate the efforts of the jury," Porter said in an e-mail. "Their verdict vindicates the testimony of the victims."