NEW PORT RICHEY — When an 89-year-old woman was raped and beaten in her home last year, authorities quickly pointed the finger at several teenagers they said were responsible for the attack.
Sheriff's investigators said Sean Maus, then 16, had won the trust of the elderly woman in Palm Terrace Gardens by mowing her lawn and fixing things around her house. She lived alone and relied on friends and neighbors to help her.
In the meantime, though, deputies said Maus of Port Richey was stealing valuables and pilfering cash from her.
That access, authorities said, enabled Maus and two friends to break into her home in the middle of the night on April 2 and steal her car.
A week later, the other teens went back without Maus.
Authorities say Carlos Fernandez and Luis Reyes, along with Reyes' brother Johnathan Rodriguez, broke into the woman's house after midnight and this time they raped her, punched her 85-pound body and held a pillow over her face, hoping she'd suffocate.
She heard one of the attackers ask, "Is she dead yet?"
The woman, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime, fought back, kicking one of the assailants in the groin. They fled.
On Friday, Maus pleaded guilty to his role in the case that stunned and terrified many in west Pasco's elderly communities. Now 17, he faced charges of burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced him to 180 days in the Pasco County jail, followed by two years of house arrest and then 3 1/2 years of probation.
Maus identified the other boys in the case for authorities, and they confessed, sheriff's officials said.
Reyes, now 15, Fernandez, 16, and Rodriguez, 21, each face charges of attempted first-degree murder, sexual battery and home invasion robbery.
Sexual battery and burglary each carry a possible life sentence.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.