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Tampa man sentenced to life in prison for armed burglary of Palmetto home

BRADENTON -- A 23-year-old Tampa man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for the armed burglary of a Palmetto home in 2013, after which deputies were taken on a high-speed chase that ended at a Brandon mall.

A jury found Patrick Hooker, 23, guilty of armed burglary.

Circuit Judge Diana Moreland sentenced him to life in prison, a sentence mandated because he re-offended within three years of being released from prison for earlier convictions.

Hooker was released from prison May 29, 2013, after serving about four years of a five-year sentence for grand theft, grand theft of a dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied structure, burglary of an occupied dwelling, attempted robbery with a non-deadly weapon, resisting arrest and accessory after the fact.

Assistant State Attorney Garrett Franzen said he was pleased with the verdict and sentence.

"He is only 23, and he already amassed a significant criminal record," Franzen said. "Here he is again breaking into a completely innocent person's house."

Hooker and two co-defendants took deputies on a high-speed chase, which endangered the public, Franzen said. The life sentence is warranted, Franzen said.

Co-defendants Darrell Matthews, 23, and Jaquavius Francis, 19, also were charged with armed burglary.

Matthews, also charged with fleeing to elude, has failed to appear in court multiple times. He has a warrant out for his arrest.

Francis pleaded no contest and was sentenced as a youthful offender to four years in prison followed by one year of house arrest and one year of probation.

Franzen said he was grateful to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, especially deputy Nicholas Ambriata. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol also assisted in apprehending Hooker,

At about noon March 3, 2014, a deputy responding to a report of a burglary in the 3400 block of 68th Street Circle East, Palmetto, saw at least two men running out of the home with arms full of goods. The deputy tried to stop them, but they fled in a stolen 2014 Hyundai.

Deputies pursued the car east on Interstate 275 and north on I-75, at times reaching speeds up to 125 mph. Hooker, Francis and Matthews were seen ditching the car in Hillsborough County outside the Brandon Westfield Mall at I-75 and State Road 60. Video from the sheriff's office helicopter showed them running into the Dillard's department store at the mall.

After Hillsborough deputies arrived, the store was cleared and closed. The suspects were found inside, including one hiding in the luggage section, and arrested.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.