By Tyler Treadway
Friday, April 24, 2009
FORT PIERCE — Two men face up to life in prison after being convicted Thursday night in connection with two home invasions and sexual assaults on Easter night 2007.
Stardale Owens, 30, of Lake Worth, and Terrince Ervin, 27, of Deerfield Beach, were found guilty of robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with an assault or battery and sexual battery by more than one perpetrator. Each will get at least 10 years in prison when they’re sentenced May 8 because jurors found the two men used firearms in the crimes.
The jury deliberated about 2½ hours before reaching the verdict shortly after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
During the three-day trial, victims testified three armed men wearing masks burst into a home on Tahoe Court in Port St. Lucie late on the night of April 9, 2007, beat and threatened to kill the four young people there and raped the one woman among them several times.
When the robbers didn’t find the money and drugs they were looking for, victims said, two of the assailants took one of the young men to a house on nearby Bella Road, where two occupants were bound and gagged.
Timmy Owens, 32, Stardale Owens’ brother, was convicted in March of armed robbery and burglary, but not the sexual assault charge, in connection with the incident and is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Baldree said DNA evidence was the key to the conviction. Condoms with DNA from Stardale Owens and Ervin were fished from the septic system at the Tahoe Court house, and a beer bottle with Ervin’s DNA was found inside the home.
Victims testified they could hear one of their assailants open a beer bottle and drink it.
Defense attorney Curt Levine of Orlando, who represents Owens, said he plans to appeal the verdict, noting Circuit Judge Robert Belanger refused to allow jurors to hear evidence that a prostitution ring may have been operated out of one or both houses.
“That would go a long way in explaining how my client’s DNA was found on a condom there,” Levine said.
Jennifer Hixson, who represents Ervin, could not be reached.
Baldree said she was “very happy with the verdict. There are some very violent, very angry men; and we’re glad to get them off the street.”