BROOKSVILLE — In a surprise move, one of the three men accused of robbing the Boyett's Grove and Citrus Attraction in 2007 pleaded guilty in a Hernando County court Wednesday morning.
Damion Childs, 25, of Orlando, signed off on a plea agreement that will send him to state prison for 25 years. Childs declined representation and insisted this morning to Circuit Judge Jack Springstead that he wanted to resolve his case.
"I want to settle this today," Childs told Springstead. "I'm here to settle these charges."
Already serving a life sentence on kidnapping charges from Orange County, Childs pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder and robbery with a firearm. Each charge carried a sentence of 25 years, which Childs will serve concurrently.
"I've never seen anyone plead to 25 years with no lawyer," said Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee. "But, really, there wasn't much to defend. And he's already doing life."
Childs never explained his reason for so quickly seeking a plea. But Barbee eagerly accepted and quickly drew up the deal during a particularly busy day in Springstead's court — the last before the Christmas holiday.
Arrest affidavits say that on April 25, 2007, Childs entered the old-Florida roadside attraction at 4355 Spring Lake Highway in rural Hernando County with Willie Cliatt and Adrian House, who subdued a customer.
Childs disabled the phones, and, armed with a .45-caliber handgun, took co-owner Kathy Oleson to a back room demanding money. When he encountered Oleson's husband, Jim Oleson, he fired two shots into his chest. The three fled with a wallet and some cash and managed to elude a massive police search.
Oleson spent several weeks in intensive care at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
Kathy Oleson said she was relieved to know the cases have almost been completely resolved. The family is eager to put that grisly incident behind them.
"We live it every day," Oleson said. "But the main part of it is over. That kind of gives you a little closure."
Another Orlando man, Elijah Montgomery, was arrested in the case. But once cell-phone records and other evidence showed he was not involved, authorities said, Montgomery started talking.
Charges were dropped against him and his information led to the arrests of Childs and House, 26. The two were arrested on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm and two counts of robbery with a firearm.
House was also in court Wednesday for a pretrial hearing. He is due back in court next month for another hearing.
The third suspect, Cliatt, was one of Montgomery's cousins. He was killed in an unrelated incident.
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.