Orange County man involved in DeBary gun theft faces life in prison

Jaquez Tuijay Smith has 9 prior convictions

An Orange County man with nine prior felony convictions is facing life in prison after his latest sentence. (VCSO)

DEBARY, Fla. – An Orange County man with nine prior felonies is facing life in prison after his latest conviction.

Investigators said 21-year-old Jaquez Tuijay Smith was convicted on Wednesday of principal to armed burglary following a jury trial.

Smith was involved in a break-in at a DeBary gun store where 18 guns were stolen in July 2018, records show.

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Prosecutors said he is a prison release re-offender and he is qualified for the enhanced sentence.

Smith committed the crime in a three-year window after being released from prison, according to prosecutors.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said his nine prior convictions include: grand thefts, burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft auto.

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“We are fortunate that the defendants were caught and 17 firearms recovered. You can bet those firearms would have been put on the street and used for criminal activities. The defendant is a career criminal with nine prior felony convictions. He will spend the rest of his life in prison,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said.

Sheriff Michael Chitwood said the guns stolen in this case would have been used to hurt or kill someone.

“I’m just grateful no innocent person was shot during the break-in, and I’m thankful for all the hard work and follow-up that led to this conviction today. All other criminals thinking about coming to Volusia County to victimize our residents or our businesses need to think about the consequences waiting for you when you get caught,” Chitwood said.

Smith’s hearing is set for later this month.