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No leniency woman sentenced to 15 years in armed robbery of adult video store

DADE CITY — A masked, hooded figured burst through the door of the adult video shop, waving a gun. The security tape of the holdup had no sound, but the cash drawer was the obvious target.

One person was convicted in the robbery: 24-year-old Victoria Rivera, who had been a clerk at Dade 301 Adult Toys & Videos.

But as Rivera was sentenced to prison Wednesday, the result of one bad choice — a crime with no injuries, lasting little more than a minute — was years lost and other lives overturned.

Because Rivera used a gun in the March 31, 2008, crime, Florida's 10-20-Life law applied, meaning she faced at least 10 years in prison. According to state sentencing guidelines, Rivera qualified for a minimum of 12 years. But the prosecutor asked for 20.

"This was a very serious case," Assistant State Attorney Justin Petredis said Wednesday. "This involved premeditation. She thought about it."

Then Rivera's girlfriend testified, crying as she talked about the positive influence Rivera has had on her four children.

"She's been a financial support and emotional support," Nekeisha Parson said. She said she hoped Rivera would be housed in a prison nearby, so she and her kids could visit.

One person not in attendance Wednesday was Rivera's mother, Isa Blanford, a longtime community activist in Lacoochee who was the state's star witness at Rivera's trial in March.

Blanford had testified — often through tears — that days after the robbery she found a gun, bank deposit bag and Rivera's shirt in the trunk of her car, which she had let her daughter borrow.

She said she could tell by the way the robber stood and moved around in the security camera video that it was her daughter.

"I didn't believe that Victoria would have done it," she said at trial. "And I wanted to see for myself."

When it was Rivera's turn to speak Wednesday, she asked for leniency.

"I love those children like they're mine," she said of her girlfriend's kids, "and I still would like to be a part of their lives."

In the end, Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa came down in the middle, sending her to prison for 15 years. Rivera must also pay $410 in restitution to the video store.

"Ms. Rivera, good luck when you get out," the judge said.

No leniency woman sentenced to 15 years in armed robbery of adult video store 05/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:06pm]
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