TAMPA — A 13-year-old suspected of participating in a string of rapes and robberies in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties has been charged as an adult and could face life in prison, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office said Monday.
A Hillsborough grand jury indicted Jose Guadalupe Walle last week on 12 counts of sexual battery, two counts of kidnapping, one count each of armed burglary, armed robbery and carjacking, and two counts of grand theft. He faces eight more charges in Pinellas.
Walle and two other men, Rigoberto Moron Martinez Jr., 20, and Vicente Reyes-Carbajal, 20, were arrested Aug. 21 after St. Petersburg police and Hillsborough sheriff's detectives linked attacks at a St. Petersburg restaurant, an Apollo Beach restaurant and a Gibsonton home invasion.
"This was a very violent, brutal crime," Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said Monday.
Because of Walle's age, the law required the prosecutors to make a case to a grand jury in order to treat him as an adult and transfer him to the county jail.
"That decision was made because of the severity of the crime and the danger to the community," Bondi said.
If charged and sentenced as a juvenile, Walle might have wound up in a rehabilitation program. Because of his age, the law won't allow him to be held more than 21 days in a juvenile facility.
Walle's father, also named Jose Walle, said in an interview with the Times last month that he brought his son to Florida as an infant from Mexico.
He said his son was a good student and a soccer star in elementary school but got involved with drugs in middle school and joined the Latin Life gang. Walle said he tried to get his son help with a Catholic counselor but the boy wouldn't listen. The family had not seen him since last spring, he said.
Jail records indicate that Walle is now represented by Tampa attorney Frank de la Grana.
Times staff writer Saundra Amrhein contributed to this report.