Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Two sentenced in robbery, battery of MacDill Army sergeant

TAMPA — Early one spring morning last year, a home surveillance camera caught what prosecutors called a random act of violence.

Four men approached an Army sergeant at 3:30 a.m. on May 13 as he walked down a street near MacDill Air Force Base. After asking for a dollar, the video shows the men punching and kicking the soldier for 40 seconds.

Two of the men pleaded guilty Thursday morning to aggravated battery with great bodily harm. Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta sentenced Brandon Miller, 19, to five years in state prison. Lerome Howard, 19, received three years.

Each agreed to pay toward a $500 restitution for the victim, Sgt. Johnny Aparicio, who was 24 at the time of the robbery. He had arrived three weeks earlier to his post at the Air Force base.

Prosecutors say Aparicio's car broke down on Iowa Avenue that morning, and he was walking home when the men attacked him. They took his cell phone, $60 and his Georgia drivers license. They knocked out a front tooth and broke his nose.

Aparicio did not come to the sentencing Thursday, but prosecutors said he agreed with the punishments.

All four men were 18 at the time of the crime.

The other two men involved in the incident, Geroshe Lewis, now 19, and Jared Richardson, 18, still face charges for robbery and felony battery.

Just before he was sentenced and taken into custody, Howard hugged his grandmother and his mother. Latoshia Jennings said she and her son had been praying and were grateful that the consequences weren't worse. She said her son is a very quiet person who made bad choices in friends. She wanted the victim to know she was sorry for her son's part in the attack.

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