Judge: Cape teen guilty in Circle K robberies
A Cape Coral teen was adjudicated guilty of robbing four Circle K convenient stores in January, and sentenced to undergo a moderate-risk “life skills” residential program Tuesday afternoon in a Lee County courtroom.
Brian Robert Covello, 17, was charged with four counts of robbery after he allegedly implied he had a gun and robbed the four Cape Coral stores under the influence of narcotics. He pleaded no contest to the charges last month.
Despite Covello’s remorse, pleas of family members and defense lawyer Joseph Viacava’s hopes Covello would recieve a lighter sentence, Lee Circuit Judge Bruce Kyle sentenced him to undergo the moderate-risk program.
Kyle cited Covello’s intelligence and accomplishments at Canterbury School as reasoning that Covello should have found a way to seek help in lieu of robbing the stores.
“You of all people should know better,” he said. “I have no choice but to adjudicate you guilty on all counts.”
Covello got two breaks, Kyle said. The first was that the State Attorney’s Office did not pursue charges against him in adult court. The second, he said, was that not a single clerk at any of the stores pulled a gun on him.
“You’re lucky to be alive today,” Kyle said.
The “life skills” program could last anywhere up to several months, though Covello will try to complete the program as quickly as possible, Viacava said.
Covello expressed remorse to those he robbed and a willingness to accept his punishment before the courtroom Tuesday.
“No matter what punishments are imposed on me … more than anything I’ll do it willingly and upfront,” he said. “I just want the court to know there’s not a day goes by in the past month that I don’t think about my actions.”
The highly intelligent 11th-grader who spent his entire school career at Canterbury had to leave the school and lost his shot at several colleges he was hoping to attend, he said.
Covello will aspire to become an oral surgeon, though that goal was made notably tougher when he began self-medicating an anxiety problem with Xanex, something he said led to the night of robberies and his subsequent arrest.
Mother Jackie Covello told the court her son had always aspired to greatness in all that he did, and that what he did was unforgivable. She said she is glad no one got hurt in the robbery incidents, including her son.
“The best thing to ever happen was for him to be arrested,” she said.
Assistant state attorneys and the robbery victims told Kyle that Covello’s “gifts” and accomplishments were not enough to warrant leniency.
“Although he threatened he had a gun, this was very scary for my employees,” Linda Concord, owner of several of the Circle K stores Covello robbed, wrote in a statement read aloud by a court aid Tuesday. “He should be punished and not be associated with the public for a while.”
Several store clerks also urged Kyle to impose a strong sentence.