Since he was shot in a robbery for his gold chain, Miami-Dade corrections officer Juan Guellmes had undergone nine surgeries. His hearing is gone in one ear, and his body is wracked daily by pain.
And worst of all, Guellmes was forced to retire early after 28 years with the Miami-Dade jails.
“It is time for me to feel my service to the community has not been in vain,” Guellmes told a judge on Friday morning. “I want to wake up every morning and feel that our justice system is everything I thought it to be — fair.”
As the courtroom packed with fellow officers watched, a Miami-Dade judge on Friday delivered the verdict: Patrick Sullivan, 22, was given a life sentence, despite pleas for mercy from his family. He had earlier pleaded guilty to armed robbery and attempted murder, hoping Circuit Judge Richard Hersch would give him only 25 years behind bars.
“I never intended to cause you pain,” Sullivan told Guellmes. “You might have a hard time accepting that ... I’m sorry for my actions and ask you to forgive me.”
It was back in August 2014 that Sullivan attacked Guellmes as the officer worked on his car in the driveway of his South Miami-Dade home. He grabbed the gold chain, pointed a gun to his head and shot him four times in the ensuing struggle.
Despite his age, Sullivan had a long criminal history that included six arrests.
“This is not one of those things where [Sullivan] just tagged along,” Hersch said as he pronounced the sentence. “With six arrests, you’d think he’d get the message — you go to your nine-to-five, or to your midnight shift.”
He said he hoped the sentence would make it safe “so everyone else can wash their car in peace.”