A Key West principal and the Monroe County schools superintendent lobbied on behalf of a convicted felon they said deserved entry in a work-release program for his role in a violent armed robbery rather than sitting in a jail cell.
The felon is a local teenager who owes the county nearly a year of jail time for the February 2017 home invasion in which another teen was pistol-whipped and a cohort carried an assault-style rifle.
Isaac Archer, a high school football standout whose mother works as the mayor's assistant, asked for the special treatment through his defense attorney.
This request came after the Monroe County Sheriff's Office denied his request for work release since the policy states no violent offenders may participate.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Archer was among three teens who were arrested for a home invasion in which another teenager was pistol-whipped and robbed. They were all charged as adults. Archer was allowed to finish out his senior year on campus.
Monroe County Judge Mark Jones swiftly denied the motion Friday but the special request still angers State Attorney Dennis Ward.
"This is four months after the massacre of 17 kids up in Parkland," Ward said, referring to the worst school shooting in Florida's history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. "It's troubling."
Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had been in trouble before he unloaded on unsuspecting schoolmates and staff, Ward pointed out.
"It leads me to wonder what kind of crime is going on at the schools that are covered up," Ward said.
Archer pleaded no contest to attempted robbery and burglary, receiving eight years of probation and 364 days in jail.
He surrendered June 8, just after his graduation from Key West High School.
"Given the opportunity to participate in a work release program would allow Isaac to further develop those skills necessary to be a contributing member of society," wrote Principal Amber Acevedo in a letter on school letterhead to Judge Jones dated June 20.
"When he had to face the difficult challenges of making a bad decision that changed the course of his life, he continued to attend school and push through the obstacles before him to reach his goal of graduating," Acevedo wrote.
Archer's final GPA was 3.3, she added.
Superintendent Mark Porter's letter is on school district letterhead and says he was asked by Archer's lawyer, Trish Gibson, to write on the teen's behalf.
Archer before the crime was a "high-profile student," Porter said.
"Isaac Archer’s conduct as a student at Key West High School this school year was truly exemplary," Porter wrote on Tuesday. "His attendance was good. He was attentive to his studies while maintaining a balance between school and employment. There was not a single incident that I am aware of where Mr. Archer did anything out of line or attempted to draw attention to himself."
Archer's co-defendants, Deon Bacon, 18, and D'Monte Davis, 19, received the same sentence as Archer. Davis has already served his time.
Bacon also asked for work release instead of jail but, like Archer, was denied by the Sheriff's Office.
The crime took place early Feb. 19, 2017, at 1301 Eighth St. in New Town when the three burst into the home. They demanded money from the teen and left with $70 from his wallet and about $511 worth of Argentine pesos from the teen's mother's wallet.