Students heard boy's screams, prosecutor in rape case at Walker Middle tells judge

TAMPA — Students said they heard him scream.

One told investigators the 13-year-old boy fought back, yelled for his attackers to stop and fell to the ground in a defensive position.

Those details emerged Wednesday as four Walker Middle School classmates faced a judge, accused of raping a teammate multiple times with a broom handle and a hockey stick in the school locker room.

Assistant State Attorney Kimberly Hindman outlined the state's case against the four as prosecutors brought adult charges of four counts of sexual battery against each of the juveniles.

She said the state will present evidence that the youngster endured a two-month reign of terror, apparently in silence.

Neither the victim nor witnesses told anyone in authority. And the attackers kept after the 13-year-old, taunting him repeatedly in school hallways: "We're going to get you today," the victim said he was told.

School officials finally learned about the assaults after a fight broke out between the victim and one of his accused attackers over a missed touchdown during flag football practice, the prosecutor said.

An adult stepped in to break it up, Hindman said, and the victim spoke out: "I'm tired of them getting on me," he said.

On Wednesday, the suspects turned themselves in on adult charges and pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 30 years or more in prison.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman set bail at $15,000 each for Lee Louis Myers, 14, Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14, Randall John Moye III, 14, and Diemante J. Roberts, 15.

That met with the request of the prosecutor, who asked for electronic monitoring and at least $15,000 in bail.

They hugged their parents before bailiffs handcuffed them for booking into the Orient Road Jail. Electronic monitors will track them upon release.

Moye will be exempt from monitoring because he now lives in Lake County with his father.

"If I find out there's been any contact in any way (with the victim)," Timmerman warned, "that person will be going to the Hillsborough County jail and remain in the Hillsborough County jail until this case is concluded."

He also imposed a 7 p.m. curfew.

The victim sat quietly in court with his father as prosecutors released new details about the case. When it came time to speak, the boy spoke briefly. He told the judge how hard it was for his family to believe what happened.

"My dad was furious," he said.

Prosecutors say two of the attacks occurred between March 1 and April 24, and two other incidents between April 27 and April 29.

Hindman said the attacks involved penetration and called them "an intentional terroristic act where the victim was held down."

The suspects' relatives say they don't believe their children could do such a thing.

"I just don't think that he deserves this," Ebony Watts, Roberts' mother, said in court.

"Deserves what?" the judge asked.

"The accusations that were made," Watts said.

Defense attorneys attacked the state's case. They questioned witness statements, the length of time it took to file a complaint and the lack of physical evidence disclosed so far.

Attorneys for Myers and Moye talked of their clients having less culpability than the other two.

Roberts' attorney, Lanell Williams, quickly dismissed that argument.

"We have no evidence as to which defendant is less or more culpable," Williams said.

Myers' mother, Judy, said her son told her the kids were all just "clowning around" in the locker room. Myers said he held the victim's hand for "five seconds tops," Judy Myers said in court.

"They all were laughing, including the boy," she said her son told her.

Myers' father, Jaime, called his son respectful and denied the charges.

"He's been a very wonderful son that any dad would be proud to have," Jaime Myers said in court. "I am certain that he is innocent of these allegations."

Citrus Park little league baseball coaches and family friends also spoke to Myers' character.

"He's one of the finest young men in this city of his age," said Myers family friend Lee Pallardy.

Relatives and friends of all four teens sat in the courtroom as a show of support. Some leaned forward in their seats as prosecutors told how their case developed.

Hindman said it began with the fight between Roberts and the victim that moved from the football field to the locker room, prompting school officials to begin asking questions.

Two of the accused attackers mentioned the hockey stick and broom handle in written statements, Hindman said. When school officials approached the other two suspects, they also implicated themselves in the crimes, she said.

"That's when it comes out he's been penetrated," Hindman said.

The victim didn't tell anyone about the sexual assaults until school officials questioned him, Hindman said.

The victim has undergone a physical examination, and evidence recovered from the crime scene, including the hockey stick and broom handle, is being tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The suspects were first taken into custody by sheriff's deputies on May 6. They were released from juvenile detention the next day under house arrest with electronic monitoring, a decision that stirred controversy at the time.

Late Wednesday, only Moye had been released on bail. Sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said the other three were being held overnight while their homes were outfitted with electronic monitoring equipment.

When juveniles are charged as adults and booked into adult jail, they are kept separate from adults and wear orange vests to designate their status.

Col. Jim Previtera, who oversees Hillsborough jails, said that last year the jail housed a daily average of 112 juveniles, which was exactly what the juvenile population was Wednesday.

Depending on how the teens are classified when they are booked in, they can either be assigned to a pod with other juveniles or to confinement, where they have no contact with other inmates.

The average age of a juvenile in jail is 17, but they have housed inmates as young as 13. This year, the youngest booked so far was 14. The average length of stay is 85 days, Previtera said.

None of the teens involved has been back to Walker Middle School. The suspects have all been either transferred to alternative schools or are homeschooling. The victim has been doing assignments from home.

Hillsborough schools officials said they will use information gathered by law enforcement to determine whether teachers or administrators at the school failed to adequately supervise the students.

"Because we never want to interfere with an investigation by law enforcement, we have not conducted an investigation at Walker Middle School related to these allegations," spokesman Stephen Hegarty said in an e-mail.

"The last several weeks, we have cooperated with investigators and helped in any way that we can," he said. "With the filing of charges today we will gather the information now available to us from law enforcement and we will look to see exactly what happened."

Times staff writers Tom Marshall, Colleen Jenkins, Dong-Phuong Nguyen, Rebecca Catalanello and Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this story. Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Students heard boy's screams, prosecutor in rape case at Walker Middle tells judge 06/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 11:30am]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...