A 33-year-old Frostproof man who robbed a Lake Wales convenience store clerk at knifepoint has been sentenced to life in prison.
Julio Aponte robbed the store on Oct. 30, 2018, only 15 days after he had escaped from a halfway house at the end of a five-year federal prison sentence for possession of heroin with intent to deliver.
Assistant State Attorney Jessica Fisher prosecuted the case. She told jurors during the trial that blue latex gloves found outside the Lake Wales Food Mart matched the DNA of Aponte. Aponte was seen on a store video wearing the gloves and holding a large knife when he stole money and cigarettes from the convenience store on State Road 60.
Circuit Judge Larry Helms sentenced Aponte to two separate life sentences for the charges of robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary while armed. Since Aponte committed the crime soon after escaping from the halfway house, he was classified as a prison releasee reoffender and must carry out a full life sentence in prison.
During the robbery, Aponte pointed the knife at the clerk as he demanded her to open the cash register. He emptied the register then took nine packs of Newport cigarettes from the rack before leaving the store with an accomplice.
Aponte was arrested after a second armed robbery occurred at another store a week later. Charged with armed robbery, Aponte’s trial date has not yet been scheduled in that case.
When Polk Sheriff’s Office detectives searched his home following the second robbery, they found a blue hoodie sweatshirt, dark sweat pants, and black and white Under Armour sneakers. It was the same outfit he was wearing when he robbed the convenience store a week earlier. A DNA test was then conducted and months later results showed that it matched the gloves collected at the crime-scene.
State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Fisher and Sheriff’s detectives for their work on the case.