Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
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Two take plea deals in chaplain battery case

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BROOKSVILLE - Rene Jimenez was leaving his house for church on the last Sunday in June when he was beaten and pistol-whipped in a robbery attempt for drug money.

Later in the day, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office arrested Jimenez's daughter, Doeminique Sylvester, her boyfriend, Christopher Miser, and a third man, Jason Tortora.

Last week, Miser, 26, pleaded no contest to charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and aggravated battery in exchange for an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence. Miser faced up to a maximum of 45 years if convicted on all three charges.

Sylvester, 28, was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. She will spend four and a half years in prison in exchange for her plea deal.

Tortora, 37, was charged with armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and remains in jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

v vA sheriff's office investigation found the three conspired to rob Jimenez, who attends church on Sunday mornings before serving as a chaplain at the jail.

Sylvester gave Miser and Tortora details on Jimenez's morning routine, and the two men drove over to Jimenez's Lomita Wren Road home early that Sunday.

Miser hit Jimenez in the head with a metal BB gun as he left the house.

When Jimenez fell to his knees, Miser continued to hit the chaplain. Jimenez was able to fight back and remove the bandana from Miser's face to recognize his daughter's boyfriend.

There were several witnesses. Jimenez was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point with minor injuries and released.

Assistant State Attorney Matthew Pila previously told Hernando Today that Jimenez and law enforcement both agreed to the plea deals.

Pila said the state had offered Tortora a seven-year deal, which he declined. Pila said the offer is now set at seven and a half years.

Because Miser carried a BB gun, there is no minimum mandatory firearm charge, according to Pila.

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Last month, Jimenez told Hernando Today one of the worst parts of the ordeal was not being able to preach at the jail until the cases are resolved.

"It didn't change my life," Jimenez said in July. "I just have more pain in my shoulder now."

Court records show Sylvester had previously been found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, driving with a suspended or revoked license, forgery, writing worthless checks and battery.

Miser was on community supervision on burglary charges at the time of his arrest.

He also has been found guilty of petit theft and resisting a merchant in Hernando County in the past.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday .com

(352) 544-5283

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