In September 2017, an 81 year-old Polk County woman returned home from an evening out with friends. She called her friend and then her son to let them know she was home safe. Later that night, she was awakened by a stranger who had broken into her home.
Julio Ruiz attacked and raped her, and threatened her that if she called the police, he would kill her. The terrified victim waited several hours and called for help. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Haines City Police Department investigated the case and located the DNA of Julio Ruiz on the victim’s bed. Ruiz was charged and arrested. Sadly, the victim died before the jury trial, which made proving the case extremely difficult. Assistant State Attorney Ashley McCarthy did not allow the evidentiary challenges to prevent her from obtaining justice for the victim and her family.
After a lengthy trial, the jury returned with guilty verdicts; convicting Ruiz of sexual battery of a physically incapacitated person and burglary with a battery. Ruiz had a long criminal record, including convictions for robbery, aggravated assault and drug trafficking. At the sentencing hearing, Circuit Judge Wayne Durden followed ASA McCarthy’s recommendation that Ruiz be sentenced to life in prison. State Attorney Brian Haas thanks the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Haines City Police Department for their investigative work on this case and Assistant State Attorneys Ashley McCarthy and Tim Coleman for prosecuting the case to a successful conclusion.