TAMPA — Johnny Aparicio, the 24-year-old Army sergeant whose severe beating by muggers May 13 triggered a national outpouring of sympathy, said Thursday he has recovered from his injuries and is grateful for the public's support.
The soldier looked fit and unmarked when he appeared in court for a hearing which was to determine whether one of three 18-year-olds arrested in the robbery would be released on bail. The hearing was canceled after the Public Defender's Office decided not to seek his release.
Aparicio declined to talk about the attack that occurred on a Sunday at 3 a.m. after his car broke down on Iowa Avenue. He had only been assigned to MacDill Air Force base three weeks ago prior to the incident.
He was attacked by four men. A surveillance camera recorded the men repeatedly punching and kicking the fallen sergeant. The video spread across the country, sparking outrage and thousands of expressions of concern.
"I'm aware of the support and I'm very grateful," Aparicio said. He didn't want to say more, other than, physically, he's doing better. A MacDill spokesman who accompanied him said the sergeant wants to put the incident behind him.
The three 18-year-olds charged with robbery and aggravated battery are Lerome Howard, Jared Richardson and Geroshe Lewis. Howard is free on $15,000 bail. Richardson and Lewis remain jailed. Prosecutors want to keep both men in jail.
A hearing is pending for Richardson, but the Public Defender's Office told the court it won't contest Lewis' detention.
A fourth man sought in the robbery is still at large.
John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or email@example.com.