LARGO — Jose Walle was a 13-year-old getting ready to start seventh grade when he was arrested with two adult men last year in a series of brutal rapes.
Now he is a 15-year-old getting ready to start a 27-year prison sentence.
Walle was sentenced Monday by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone in the case of a robbery and rape at the Table restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg. The crime was part of a rampage in the summer of 2008 that included rapes and attacks in Hillsborough County, in Gibsonton and Apollo Beach.
"Quite frankly, the facts of this case are amazingly aggravated; they are very, very serious," Bulone said.
"I recognize how heartbreaking this is for his family," Bulone said, but added that he also needed to consider how much Walle "hurt the victim or at least contributed to the pain of the victim."
Walle, in blue jail scrubs and a buzz cut, clasped his hands behind his back, stared down and said little. When Bulone asked if he had any questions about the 27-year sentence, the teenager shook his head without speaking.
Although Walle of Riverview did not rape the woman himself, he was one of three people who made the crime happen.
Assistant State Attorney David Tobiassen said that at the start of the robbery, Walle aimed a gun at a duct-taped kitchen worker to keep him under control. Then he did nothing to stop his friend Rigoberto Moron Martinez from stripping another employee and raping her on the "filthy" kitchen floor, Tobiassen said.
But Walle's attorney, Darlene Calzon Barror, said Walle was a young man under the "dominion" of the older Martinez. She asked for the lowest permissible sentence, 10 years.
Several friends and family members testified about Walle, who was born in Mexico and has lived with his parents in the United States since he was 3. They said he won awards for his soccer playing and that he was well liked.
"He was a good kid, he was the captain of the team," said his coach, Enrique Gallegos.
But his parents clashed with Walle when he began smoking marijuana, and he went to live with Martinez, who is seven years older. From there, Walle fell fast.
"He was using marijuana, Xanax, ecstasy, Prozac, cocaine, methamphetamine and acid, all of which were obtained through the aid of Rigoberto Martinez," Barror said.
Before Monday's sentencing, Walle had pleaded guilty to armed sexual battery, two counts of armed kidnapping and three counts of robbery, without making a plea bargain with prosecutors.
At the time Walle entered the plea, Bulone had told him he might be able to get juvenile sanctions or a relatively shorter "youthful offender" sentence. But the judge later learned that was not legally possible under one of the crimes Walle admitted. On Monday, Bulone gave Walle the choice to withdraw his plea, but Walle declined.
Later Monday, after hearing all the witnesses who wanted to testify, Bulone said he would not have chosen such a short sentence even if it had been possible, because of the brutality of the crime.
The 27-year sentence was near the bottom of the guidelines for the crimes Walle pleaded to.
Walle, Martinez and a third man, Vicente Ejias Reyes-Carbajal, still face charges in Hillsborough County.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8232.