Six of the seven young adults who in August broke into the home of former Miami Heat star Ray Allen while his wife was upstairs asleep with their children will begin a pre-trial diversion program, the court ruled Friday morning.
The state attorney's office and the Allens agreed that the teens would each work 100 hours of community service at Miami homeless shelter Camillus House and each donate $1,000 to the Battier Take Charge Foundation within six months. Shane Battier, a former Miami Heat player, started the foundation with his wife to help underserved students and their families finance their college educations.
The seven were initially charged with trespassing an occupied structure — a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to a year in jail, $1,000 fine, and a year’s probation.
The Allens were not in court Friday. However, their attorney, Gregory Victor, told the Miami Herald he hopes the teens “learned their lesson."
"I'm glad it's over. They had a small taste of what the justice system is like. I hope it was a bitter taste," Victor said. "But the kids had clean records, nobody was hurt, it was a misdemeanor and nobody wanted to ruin their future. At the same time though, the Allens wanted them to feel the consequences of their actions."
Six of the seven were in court: Jorge Jesus Guerrero, 18; Christian John Lobo, 18; Jonathan Louis Ramirez, 19; Kevin Ramos, 18; Ernesto Romero, 18; and Angel Alejandro Sanchez, 18.
Alana Elizabeth Garcia, who lives in Gainesville, was not in court because of a school-related conflict, chief assistant state attorney Kathleen G. Hoague said.
Garcia, 18, is not being represented by the same attorney as the others.
The six young men sat silently in a row, some wearing spiffy suits, long dress shirts or a solid-colored tie. Their faces — stiff and serious. Some of them tapped their feet anxiously and crossed their arms.
According to Coral Gables police reports, the following events took place in the early morning hours of Aug. 14:
At around 2:31 a.m., the seven young adults entered the former Miami Heat player’s home on Tahiti Beach in Coral Gables. His wife, Shannon Walker Allen, was asleep with her four children in her second-floor bedroom. Allen was not home.
The seven all live in Miami — mainly between southwest 62nd Avenue and Red Road, from Coral Way up to Flagler Street, except for Garcia, whose family home is in Coconut Grove.
They had been attending a party at a home in the 27 block of Tahiti Beach Island Road. A father of a friend of theirs, Sara Sigel, has a home in the exclusive gated community at the tip of Cocoplum in Coral Gables. Property records list the owner of the 8,165-square-foot home as Philip A. Sigel.
The seven had gone to the community beach, built a bonfire, were eating s’mores and reminiscing before heading off to college. They began talking about the house near the beach, the Allens’ home.
After a while, the group decided to walk into the backyard of the Allens’ home. They looked into the windows, saw boxes on the floor and some furniture wrapped in plastic. They told police they believed the home was not occupied and they were “curious” about it..
One of the young men, Guerrero, told police he found an unlocked rear door, through which the seven entered the home. They walked around, using a flashlight app on their cellphones to show the way. They admired the pictures on the wall.
They climbed the stairs and entered a bedroom, where they were startled by a woman’s voice.
“What the f--- are you doing in my house?” Shannon Walker Allen screamed.
The seven ran down the stairs, scampered out the back door, collected their belongings on the beach and quickly fled the area.
Coral Gables police caught up with them at 4:30 a.m. at the Coconut Grove home where Sara Sigel lives with her mother, Marci Sigel.
Marci Sigel told police she instructed the group to remain at her home because she did not want her daughter to take the fall for her friends’ actions. She said the kids were all “good kids” who had just graduated from high school. They were spending an evening together before heading to college and ended up doing something “stupid.”
Hoague, the chief assistant state attorney, told the Herald she thinks prosecutors "made the appropriate decision."
"However we made it a special condition that they had to be here, in court," she said. "They could have pled in absentia, but we wanted them to physically be in court so that they can see that this is not a prank. So they arranged to be here today; to answer for what they've done."
Some of the six freshmen traveled from Gainesville to be in court. Others made arrangements with their professors at Miami Dade College and Florida International University to be excused, said their attorney, Joseph Nascimento.
Most of the teens work part-time jobs, Nascimento said, adding that he knows the financial donation "will probably impact the parents more than them."
"These are not wealthy kids. These are not kids who live on Tahiti Beach," he said. "These are a group of young men who found themselves making a horrible lapse in judgment for a couple of minutes. They are deeply sorry."
The group declined to comment; on their behalf, Nascimento told the media: "They are very grateful for the Allen family, the state attorney's office and Coral Gables police for they way they handled the case from the start."