A ton of newspaper and web sites had the story yesterday of a Waco jury sentencing a man to "99 years for stealing a cell phone." Well, not quite. He did in fact steal a cell phone but he managed to strike his victim with his fist a couple of times during the course of the theft. That boosts the case from a misdemeanor theft to felony robbery. And the other important fact was that the defendant had been sent to prison in the past for felonies on two prior occasions. That makes him (1) ineligible for probation and (2) subject to a range of punishment of no less than 25 years and no more than life in prison. Throw in one more fact: His testimony "was punctuated . . . with frequent profanity-laced tirades and told jurors he didn't care if they gave him life in prison." The 99 year sentence makes a little more sense now.
at 10:52 AM