Teen changes story on assailant's identity in robbery case

June 23, 2005|By SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A 13-year-old boy has changed his story, claiming that officers threatened the boy with time in jail unless he named Lionel Tate as the assailant last month in the robbery of a pizza deliveryman, a defense lawyer said yesterday.

The boy, Taquincy Tomkins, told private investigators that a 16-year-old named Willie - and not Tate, once the youngest American ever sentenced to life in prison - broke into his apartment, hit him with a door and pointed a gun at the deliveryman.

Bond hearing

Defense attorney Jim Lewis said he will introduce the sworn statement at a bond hearing today to prove that Tate, 18, did not rob anyone or violate his probation - a misstep that could send Tate back to prison for life.

Tate has been in jail since his May 23 arrest on charges that he held up the pizza man at gunpoint.

Accusations denied

The Broward County Sheriff's Office dismissed the accusations made during the news conference yesterday.

Tate made international headlines when he was convicted of murder at age 14 and then was sentenced to life in prison.

He won an appeal, pleaded guilty and was released last year on house arrest and 10 years probation.

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