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Robbery sentence: life plus 15 years

Lured by a $1-million score, the man joined others to kidnap, torture and shoot a Darby auctioneer.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 23, 2002

DADE CITY -- A Darby man said three robbers stole his community's sense of security in June, and on Friday, Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb took away one of the gunmen's freedom -- for life.

Cobb sentenced Aledward Robertson, 28, of Auburndale, for his role in the Father's Day ambush, beating, shooting and kidnapping of Darby auctioneer William "Dave" Newman.

A jury convicted Robertson on Wednesday of attempted armed robbery, armed burglary, aggravated battery and kidnapping. Cobb sentenced him Friday to life in prison, plus an additional 15 years.

Robertson's appointed attorney, A.J. Ivie, claimed throughout the trial his client was a victim of mistaken identity. But Newman never wavered from his identification and said he was positive Robertson was one of at least three men who ambushed him at his home June 16.

The attack, Newman said, ripped away the security his family and neighbors in his rural community had felt. Since the attack, everything changed, he said.

"We've lived where we live for 13 years, and up until then, we never locked our doors," Newman told the judge. "Now, I never leave the house unless I have a gun in my hand. I have a $5,000, man-eating dog. . . . Now, everybody calls each other before they come over: 'Hey, that's me coming up the drive."'

Newman, a gun collector and member of the National Rifle Association, was jumped by Robertson and two other men as he finished mowing his yard. The men told him they expected to score up to $1-million in the heist, Newman testified.

They threatened to kill him and his wife. They beat him, hit him with a sledgehammer, lashed him to a tractor, gagged him and shot him in the leg before he broke free, grabbed a pistol he had stashed in his barn and shot Robertson.

Newman telephoned his daughter for help, and son-in-law Martin Harm raced to the scene, where he drove the robbers off in a gun battle on Newman's lawn.

Newman said since then, he keeps his weapons loaded and close at hand. He has a 100-pound attack dog named Blitz guarding his home. He has an alarm system.

And while the million dollars the robbers thought he might have was pure fiction, Newman said he is careful now to have all cash from his business collected by armed guards and taken straight to the bank.

Deputies working with a tracking dog caught a second suspect, Wilford Stanley Washington, 29, of De Soto County, near Newman's home shortly after the attack. He remained Friday at the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes awaiting trial. Bail is set at $100,000.

A third gunman escaped, and Newman said he suspects a mastermind and at least one other person are involved. He vowed to continue pressing charges until everyone involved has been brought to justice.

With the sentence delivered, Bailiff Jim Dome fingerprinted Robertson and led him from the courtroom. Shuffling through the courtroom door, Robertson looked over at Newman's family and mouthed, "God bless you."

-- Chase Squires covers east Pasco courts and news about Dade City. He can be reached at (352) 521-5757, ext. 27 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 27. His e-mail address is .

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