A 14-year-old boy, Alexander Perez, in Tampa, Florida, was arrested Friday on first-degree murder charges for allegedly killing an elderly man during a home invasion, according to the ABC Action News.
At around 2 a.m. on September 23, 81-year-old Robert Walker was sitting on his porch at his home on Devonshire Dr. in Holiday when Perez approached him and repeatedly punched him in the face before forcing Walker into his home through the front door, police say.
The teen reportedly took Walker to his bedroom where he continued to beat him. Afterward, Perez – who is a student at Anclote High School – took the man’s pants and wallet before fleeing the scene on foot.
Emergency medical services were called to the scene and treated Walker’s injuries – he was not transported to a local hospital.
Walker was able to speak with reporters after the home invasion attack, saying “well, I was robbed once before by him. About three months ago, he tried to kill me.”
He went on to say that he would like to ask Perez, “Why did you try to kill me?”
The victim was never able to ask Perez that question as he died from his injuries just hours after being interviewed.
Perez was arrested later that day and taken to the Land O Lakes Detention Center on home invasion robbery charges, but after the Pasco County medical examiner ruled Walker’s death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma, the teen was arrested again three months later on first-degree murder charges.
Although Pasco County police officials say the incident was not a random act and the teen reportedly did not seem apologetic about home invasion turned homicide, it was never the teen’s intent to kill the victim.
David Dacey, who is with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, stated that “he [Perez] lived maybe a quarter mile away. He was friends with another juvenile across the street so the victim was familiar with the suspect.”
Pasco County police officials have charged the Tampa teen as an adult and several neighbors have agreed with their decision, including Stephanie Molina who said, “That’s what needs to be done to get the crime off the streets – do what we have to do for the young kids to help the kids, show them not to do things like this.”
Another neighbor, Billy Sepulveda, believes that the teen should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, adding that “there was no reason for him to die like that. He should have died peacefully.”
Sepulveda added that the neighborhood used to be “tight-knit until the area had been terrorized by teenage hoodlums. We don’t need to have a tragedy to be together and we can take our streets back; we can do our own thing again, live like human beings.”
“We shouldn’t be afraid to walk out of our front door, worried about someone stealing or killing you or something like that,” Sepulveda added.
After the Tampa killing, a vigil was held for Walker in front of his home, where he had lived since 2000.
Police are hoping that other teens will see how a robbery quickly turned into a homicide and they will “think twice about going out late at night and robbing people.”
Perez is being held at the Pasco County Jail in the juvenile area. Detectives are investigating whether another teen may have played a role in the killing.
As of now, no one else has been charged in the murder case.
The state attorney’s office have stated the Perez is not eligible for the death penalty, but if he is convicted of the crime, he could spend at least 25 years in prison.
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