Longform

Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?

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A change.org petition urged Drake supporters to bombard Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg with letters, emails, and phone calls. The 9,000 people who signed it asked the young, Harvard-educated prosecutor to punish Ivins to the fullest extent of the law.

"ABSOLUTELY NO PLEA DEALS ON THIS CHARGE," wrote Billie Young from New Smyrna, Florida. "There was NO REASON for the KILLER to have shot an innocent dog, especially a K-9 that is trained as an enforcer of the law."

Vicky Frederick from Canada had a less sympathetic take.

"JUST KILL HIM!" she wrote.


For Ivins' family, seeing their loved one targeted with such vitriol was debilitating. Ivins was being vilified as a monster who deserved to be executed instead of a kid who made a stupid decision.

"I don't watch the news anymore," says Ivins' mother, Nanci. "People were looking at us like we're evil. We're not evil. I didn't raise my kids to be evil. So what happened to my kids could happen to anybody's kid."

Three years after arriving in Florida from Haiti in 1999, Nanci's husband, Isaac, died. While working at a golf course in Palm Beach, he ate something that led to a severe case of food poisoning. Ivins Rosier was only 5 years old. Despite the hardship, Nanci raised her five kids alone or, as she tells it, with help from God -- "the only thing I know," she says.

Both of her daughters are now in their 20s and married. Her oldest son, Isaac, is now 30 and works as a security officer. Another son, Ivenor, 20 years old, earned a basketball scholarship to attend Kentucky's University of the Cumberlands, where he's majoring in sports and exercise science. He spoke to New Times from his dorm.

Ivins "really was just a good kid," Ivenor says. "He liked to read; he was really good at math. He was a smart, caring kid."

"Ivins was so good to me," Nanci says. "I was involved in an accident, and I have spine problems. Ivins watched me like a baby -- 'Mommy, I don't want you to do this, I don't want you to do that. I'm going to mop the floor; I'm going to do this.'"

But Ivins' bookish, doting attitude receded around the age of 15, his family says, when he started hanging out with a few older kids and began dabbling in drugs like marijuana and pills. Whether due to peer pressure or teenage growing pains, he changed pretty drastically around this time, they say.

"He just stopped listening to me, my mom," Ivenor says. "He just started doing his own thing and was always angry and very aggressive."

But even before the big change, Ivins had a few run-ins with the law, for which prosecutors would later describe him as a "career criminal."

Ivins' juvenile criminal record is sealed, but on July 21, 2014, Aronberg wrote an op-ed article for the Palm Beach Post that announced, without context, the charges the teen had racked up. Aronberg sought to justify Ivins's 23-year sentence, arguing that it should have been even longer.

"In 2008, [Ivins] pleaded guilty to robbery by sudden snatching," Aronberg wrote. "In 2009, he pleaded guilty to battery. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior and kidnapping of a victim under 12 years old. In 2012, he pleaded guilty of resisting an officer without violence. Later in 2012, he pleaded guilty to burglary and grand theft of a dwelling."

The Palm Beach prosecutor added: "And yet each time, prosecutors and judges responded with light juvenile sanctions in the hope of rehabilitating someone who refused to be rehabilitated."

Aronberg's office wouldn't divulge more details about the charges, but family members and a counselor who worked with Ivins say they were not as serious as they sound.

Yvonne Rose-Green, a Riviera Beach-based mental health counselor who runs a private practice, Helping Hand Counseling Services, worked with Ivins during a 12-week intervention program. She met Ivins in 2010 after the "lewd and lascivious behavior and kidnapping" charge. Rose-Green says that charge was a result of Ivins' getting caught in a middle-school washroom with a girl, who told the teacher she had been pulled into the room.

Rose-Green says Ivins helped her translate for kids whose Creole was better than their English. She also says his FCAT scores were 5s, placing him in the top 20 percentile in the state.

"I lobbied for the school board to have him removed from the alternative school [where he had been sent after the bathroom incident] and placed back in normal high school," Rose-Green explains. As a result, Ivins was placed in honors-level classes in Royal Palm Beach Community High School. But he found trouble again.

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Ray Downs
Contact: Ray Downs