Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Once a symbol of juvenile crime, man is unable to shake trouble

TAMPA — When he was 12, Walter "JJ" Revear became the poster child for juvenile crime, charged with stealing a dozen cars and two armed robberies.

But a Hillsborough Circuit Court judge gave him chance at redemption, sentencing him to house arrest. His family, church and the community waited to see if he could turn his life around.

Then he made a mistake while helping out a friend of his foster family in 1999, and started a cycle of arrests and prison that he can't seem to escape.

On Tuesday, Revear was back in jail, charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, third-degree grand theft and obstructing or opposing a police officer without violence. According to the Tampa police, he and three other men broke in and began stealing things from the home of Joyce Maxwell at 1501 E. Jean St.

A neighbor soon confronted the men and chased them out of the house after calling 911.

Police captured two suspects in the neighborhood and the other two in the parking garage at University Square Mall.

This is the second time Maxwell has been robbed in a month, after having her van and power wheelchair stolen and recovered on Dec. 5. Police are unsure if she is being targeted.

Revear knows the neighborhood. He was sentenced to serve one year of house arrest in 1996 at the Central Court Apartments — just 3 miles away.

Dee Ann Athan, a former public defender, said it's sad to hear that one of her nicest clients is in trouble again.

Revear was released from prison on Oct. 9 after serving five years for cocaine possession.

He's been arrested four times since 1996, the year the late Hills­borough Circuit Judge Diana Allen remanded him to the care of his grandmother, Helen Revear.

Athan said that after her diminutive client got the suspended sentence, he was picked up again on trespassing and car theft charges 1996, but acquitted.

After that, he stuck to his community supervision until he found himself back in front of Allen in 1997 for testing positive for marijuana at 15. His grandparents were ill and unable to handle him, Athan said.

"So she sentenced him to boot camp and he did really well," she said.

Revear was free again in 1998, and Athan worked with friend to find him a foster family.

Robert and Brenda Frusters, a couple connected to the Without Walls Church, took Revear into their Carrollwood home and enrolled him in a private church school. But while helping a friend of the Frusters clean out his garage, Revear pocketed a derringer and when he realized he had it, he gave it to his sister, Athan said.

When the gun's owner asked the Frusters about it, Revear confessed and the couple reported it to his probation officer.

That was the beginning of the end for him, Athan said.

Even though 50 members of the church and family came to testify about what a great kid Revear was, Judge Jack Espinoza Jr. sentenced him to two years in state prison.

"When he got out in 2002 he moved back to the projects and started to get into trouble more," Athan said. "I believe if he had been allowed to finish the 11th grade, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

He is held at the Orient Road Jail with bail set at $10,000.

Once a symbol of juvenile crime, man is unable to shake trouble 01/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 10:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas deputy in trouble for social media boast: 'Nothing like almost shooting someone'

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media.

    A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media. Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross on Thursday confirmed deputy Austen Callus' employment and said the agency is "aware of the social media post." [Facebook'
  2. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  3. Watch the trailer for 'Mini Lights,' based on St. Petersburg's frightening urban legend

    Blogs

    Perhaps you've heard of the "mini lights." The tales can vary a bit, but generally, they're said to be nasty little creatures controlled by a witch that once lived near Booker Creek. They come out after dark to "get you."

    A scene from the proof of concept trailer for a mini lights movie.
  4. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill

    Blogs

    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.

  5. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing

    Outdoors

    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]