Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Remaining Walker defendants plead guilty to felony battery, avoid jail

TAMPA — The allegations of locker-room abuse were shocking and the headlines splashy.

In May 2009, authorities said four Walker Middle School students subjected a flag football teammate to multiple instances of sexual battery by broom handle and hockey stick.

The names and mug shots of Diemante Roberts, Raymond Price-Murray, Lee Myers and Randall Moye — all minors — became widely associated with the stigma of those allegations, and the school changed its supervision policy as a result.

But Wednesday, with Myers and Moye already facing reduced felony battery charges, prosecutors agreed to also drop sexual battery charges against the remaining two defendants and allow them to plead guilty to the lesser crime.

Unless the teens violate the agreements, not one of them will spend a day in jail.

The outcome marked a significant feat for defense attorneys. But there was no air of victory or proclamations of innocence as Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles sentenced Roberts, 16, and Price-Murray, 15, to five years each of adult probation.

"In this case, the bullying was horrific," Battles said. "How terrible what that victim suffered. What cruelty, what crimes. It shocked the conscience, it shocked the community."

Their punishment, the judge said, did not diminish what happened.

"Today," he said, "you're being held to account."

Assistant State Attorney Kimberly Hindman's mood was equally somber.

While conceding imperfections with the state's case, she painted a dark scene of the terror the 13-year-old victim endured over two months in the unsupervised locker room.

He was an alternate on the flag football team. The other four boys were talented players, who "were often very disgusted with his lack of athletic skill," Hindman said.

She said they picked on him daily, calling him nasty names and making fun of his weight.

Then, "the cruelty crossed the line and became criminal," she said.

On May 6, 2009, and again in a deposition he gave this week, the victim said Roberts and Price-Murray used a hockey stick and broomstick to assault him while Moye and Myers held him down.

But after revealing what had happened, nearly a month passed before he underwent medical examinations. Hindman said the teen, who at one point told his mother he had blood in his stool, was reluctant to visit a doctor.

Crime lab tests found the victim's DNA on a hockey stick, but recovered nothing from the stick that linked it to the suspects.

Then came the complicated task of sorting through witness statements.

Hindman said nine flag football players would have testified against Price-Murray and Roberts, who were scheduled to stand trial this month. Each of them put the defendants at the scene, she said. But none could prove penetration.

The victim admitted he had a limited field of vision during the attacks because he was thrown down on his stomach, Hindman said.

Prosecutors previously allowed Myers, 15, to enter into a pretrial intervention program. Moye, 15, was promised juvenile sanctions.

Ultimately, the state decided plea offers for Price-Murray and Roberts were in the best interest of everyone involved.

The "greatest wish" of the victim's parents, Hindman said, was to avoid putting their son through a trial.

They did not attend the hearing Wednesday.

Though Price-Murray and Roberts received the most severe penalties in the case, Hindman said they don't deserve to be tagged as sexual offenders.

"The facts as they present themselves are a sexual battery," she said. But "there was no evidence, even from the victim, that this was a sexually motivated offense."

Hindman said the teens' age and lack of prior criminal records were also taken into account.

As part of their sentence, they must each perform 100 community service hours, 50 of which will include speaking to their peers about the adverse effects of hazing and bullying. Adjudication was withheld. But if they mess up on probation, they each face up to five years in prison.

Price-Murray's attorney said his client accepts responsibility for his part in the bullying.

"I know that he'll learn his lesson and that he has learned his lesson," lawyer Bryant Camareno said.

School district spokesman Stephen Hegarty, too, hopes something positive has resulted from the "alarming" case.

Walker Middle students are no longer allowed inside locker rooms without a coach or administrator present.

"At the very least, this case put a spotlight on bullying," Hegarty said. "I think that this really heightened awareness of those issues having to do with bullying and assuring that everyone is supervised."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

fast facts

The outcomes

The four teens charged with four counts each of sexual battery in the Walker Middle School case have all reached resolutions with prosecutors. None faces sex charges any longer. Here is how they fared:

Randall Moye, 15: Pleaded guilty to one count of felony battery and is expected to receive juvenile sanctions.

Lee Myers, 15: Faces one count of felony battery, which will be dropped if he completes pretrial intervention. Must perform 50 hours of community service.

Diemante Roberts, 16: Pleaded guilty to one count of felony battery. Must serve five years of probation and perform 100 hours of community service. Adjudication was withheld.

Raymond Price-Murray, 15: Same as

Roberts.

Remaining Walker defendants plead guilty to felony battery, avoid jail 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Even presidents get sinkholes: One has formed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago

    Bizarre News

    Even presidential mansions are susceptible to sinkholes — especially if they're in Florida.

    A sinkhole has formed in front of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in south Florida.
  2. Every Little Thing podcast
  3. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But it's replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  4. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  5. Column: Trump beat Bush, Rubio but has become an 'establishment sellout'

    Blogs

    NYT’s Ross Douthat's Sunday column: Donald Trump, Establishment Sellout