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Lionel Tate

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Lionel Tate charged in armed robbery of pizza delivery man


By Akilah Johnson

Staff writer

Posted May 24 2005, 10:02 AM EDT

Lionel Tate, the youngest person in modern U.S. history to be sentenced to life in prison before he was released last year, has been arrested again -- this time in connection with the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.


Tate, now 18, allegedly ordered four Domino's pizzas from a Pembroke Park apartment Monday, and when the delivery man arrived, Tate "greeted him with a gun," said Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo. The delivery man returned to the restaurant and called police. Officers later arrested Tate in the area, Calzadilla-Fiallo said.

It is the second time Tate has been arrested since he was released from prison early last year. Under terms of his most recent probation, he could be sent back to prison to serve a life sentence.


Attorney Richard Rosenbaum, who has represented Tate, told The Associated Press that Tate and his mother called him as he was being arrested. ``I heard he jacked a pizza delivery guy, which I can't believe happened,'' Rosenbaum said. ``I'm shocked and appalled.''


Tate drew national and international attention in 2001 when he became the youngest American ever believed sentenced to life. He was convicted of the 1999 murder of 6-year-old playmate Tiffany Eunick. Tate was 12 at the time of the girl's death, and his attorneys argued he was imitating professional wrestling moves when he accidentally killed her.


The jury, however, thought the girl's injuries were too severe to be caused by an accident, and sentenced Tate to life without the possibility of parole.


High-profile attorneys and grassroots community groups took up the boy's cause, appealing to the governor, the pope and the United Nations. Tate's conviction and sentence were overturned and he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and in January 2004, he was released from prison.


Then, in September, Tate was arrested and charged with violating conditions of his house arrest when he was caught walking near his Pembroke Park home at 2 a.m. just before Hurricane Frances struck to the north. As punishment, he was sentenced to an additional five years probation -- bringing the total to 15 years probation, 1,000 hours of community service, a strict curfew and random drug tests.


On Monday Tate was charged with armed robbery and armed burglary with battery.

He showed up at a 12-year-old acquaintance's apartment in the 3800 block of Southwest 52nd Avenue just before 4 p.m. and asked to use the phone, Calzadilla-Fiallo said.


"The only reason he was at the apartment was to use the kid's phone," she said. "He placed the [pizza] order and took off."


But Tate didn't go far. He waited downstairs until he saw Walter Ernesto Gallardo, 44, of Hollywood, show up with the four pizzas. As soon as Tate saw Gallardo, he ran back upstairs but the teen wouldn't let him inside, Calzadilla-Fiallo said.


Tate forced his way inside, beat up the 12-year-old and pointed a gun at Gallardo when he knocked, she said. Gallardo dropped the pizzas, tumbled down the stairs and went back to the restaurant and called police.


Gallardo returned to the apartment complex with deputies, saw Tate in the area and identified him as the robber. Calzadilla-Fiallo said no gun was recovered.


Akilah Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4631.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.





I see he graduated to guns. They better lock him up for good before he kills again.

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