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A rare life sentence

April 17, 2010

TAMPA — He held the gun. He had to be persuaded not to kill his two rape victims. The women considered him “the mean one,” though he was just 13.

On Wednesday, a judge sent him to prison for life.

Jose Guadalupe Walle, now 15, may be the first U.S. prisoner in two decades to be written off so young for a crime in which no one died. Not since 1990 has a teen been sentenced to life without a chance of release for such acts committed before age 14, according to arguments four months ago before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe predicted Walle would kill if he ever walked the streets again.

“I’ve taken your client’s age into consideration,” Tharpe told Walle’s attorney. “And I will tell you that this is one of the most disturbing cases that I have ever come across in the 19 years I have been on the bench.

“Your client doesn’t have a conscience. He has absolutely no regard for human life.

“If ever there was a case in which the community needs to be protected from someone that’s a predator like your client,” he said, “this is the case.” …

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