TAMPA — A man sentenced to 40 years in prison for his part in a shocking 1992 Culbreath Isles home invasion and rape was turned over to immigration officials Tuesday for deportation after serving less than half his term.
Rudy Barrientos, 34, was 17 when he and three other young men broke into a home in the exclusive South Tampa neighborhood, tied up a woman and her teenage son, ransacked the house and repeatedly raped the mother. The men ate waffles with syrup before fleeing in the family's van.
Three of the men received life sentences. For reasons unclear Tuesday, Barrientos, whose nine convictions included two counts of sexual battery with a weapon or force, faced a maximum of 40 years.
He served only 17 years because he committed his crime before a 1995 law requiring those convicted of serious offenses to complete at least 85 percent of their sentences, said Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. At the time of his incarceration, inmates' sentences were automatically shaved by a third as soon as they landed behind bars.
The early release didn't sit well with those who knew the victims or the detective who took Barrientos' confession.
Tampa police Detective Dennis Drabiniak still remembers how Barrientos was wearing a necklace that belonged to the woman he raped when authorities interviewed him.
"What they did to her, oh my God," Drabiniak said. "How vile can you get? This is just terrible."
The violent nature of the crime rocked the gated waterfront neighborhood off West Shore Boulevard in the spring of 1992.
The 45-year-old woman and her 16-year-old son were asleep in their two-story home when one of the men climbed through an unlocked kitchen window and let the other three men in through a door.
The masked intruders woke the son by pressing a gun to his head. After they tore up the home, they left the boy bound and gagged in a back room and then repeatedly raped his mother in her bed.
The four stole a television, a videocassette recorder, jewelry and a shotgun. At one of the robber's homes, police found the family's VCR hooked up to a TV and a tin of foreign coins the mother collected.
A fingerprint found on the syrup bottle and hairs found in the woman's sheets led police to another robber.
Barrientos' co-defendants — Michael Richard Long, Kevin Lavard Thomas and Dennis Wayne Gonzalez — remain in prison.
The rape victim did not respond to messages left by the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday. Her son declined to comment.
Authorities transferred Barrientos, a native of Guatemala whose name also appears as Rudi Barrientos in records, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials without incident at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Plessinger said.
She said Barrientos had a deportation hearing in 1996, where he was ordered to be deported upon his release.
He now faces removal from the United States, said ICE spokeswoman Nicole A. Navas.
Barrientos could have been released even earlier under the old rules, but officials detained him an extra 255 days because of disciplinary issues, Plessinger said. Those offenses included an obscene or profane act, possession of an unauthorized beverage and disorderly conduct.
Mental health experts with the Department of Children and Families reviewed Barrientos' case to determine if his sex crime conviction made him eligible to be held longer.
But Steve Wiggins, one of the psychologists who evaluated the case, said Barrientos did not meet the criteria to be considered a dangerous sexual predator because this was his only known sex offense and robbery seemed to be the primary motive in the crime. He was cleared for release in August.
News of Barrientos' release Tuesday disgusted Malcolm Pressman, a longtime Culbreath Isles resident who knows the victims.
"Anybody who does that is just no good," he said. "I think they're doing a disservice to the public when they let these guys out."
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or email@example.com.