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Army teen attacks girlfriend for kerry support { March 31 2005 }

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   http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pbush31mar31,0,4570578.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pbush31mar31,0,4570578.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Teen pleads guilty to attacking girlfriend for her Kerry support

By Missy Stoddard
Staff Writer

March 31, 2005

Steven Soper had his life all mapped out.

The 18-year-old from Lake Worth had been accepted into the Army and planned to enlist after graduating this spring from Santaluces High School.

But the plan came apart in late October when he attacked his girlfriend after learning she planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the presidential election.

Soper pleaded guilty Wednesday to false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting arrest without violence. Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga sentenced Soper to 90 days in jail followed by five years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The judge ordered Soper to write a letter of apology to 18-year-old Stacey Silveira, whom he dated for two years, according to Silveira. Soper is also required to complete a batterers' intervention program, undergo psychological and substance abuse evaluations and complete any recommended treatment.

Silveira's neighbor west of Boynton Beach called 911 on Oct. 26 after seeing Soper carrying Silveira as she screamed "no, no, no," Assistant State Attorney Tim Beckwith said. Soper pointed a knife at Silveira and threatened to kill her, he added. A deputy found evidence of a struggle inside the home, including a broken pot.

Soper dragged Silveira, kicking and screaming, into her house before throwing her to the floor and spitting on her, police reports said. Soper reportedly bit Silveira and then placed a knife in her hand and told her to kill him, because a vote for Kerry would mean he would die anyway.

The couple's relationship had been volatile at times, defense attorney Michael Salnick said, but it became violent when Soper learned of his girlfriend's decision to support Kerry.

"Many relatives of Steven's have served in the armed forces ... and he had every intention of going to other parts of the world to defend the United States," Salnick said.

Soper could request early termination of his probation if he successfully completes all the requirements, but Salnick said he would not consider doing so until Soper has finished at least half of the probation -- 21/2 years.

Soper has since dropped out of high school and is pursuing his general equivalency diploma, Salnick said. He still hopes to one day serve in the military.

Missy Stoddard can be reached at mstoddard@sun-sentinel.com or 561-832-2895.


Copyright 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel



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