Even when considering Willie Smith Ward's nine previous convictions, this is excessive: On Wednesday, a jury in Waco, Texas sentenced Ward to 50 years in jail for stealing a $35 rack of ribs from a grocery store and then telling a store employee that he had a knife.
In September 2011, Ward stole the ribs from a grocery store, hiding them under his shirt. A store employee noticed the bulge and confronted Ward in the store's parking lot, at which point the ribs apparently fell from Ward's shirt. The employee then asked Ward if he was hiding anything else. “I got a knife,” Ward said.
“Now you just turned a ticket into a serious crime,” the employee replied.
Ward, who never actually showed a knife, took off running and was later arrested. He was charged and convicted of robbery and sentenced to 50 years.
“This verdict shows that the citizens of this county will not tolerate a continued disrespect and disregard for other people and their property,” said Assistant District Attorney J.R. Vicha, who prosecuted Ward with Chris Bullajian. “People who choose to do so will be dealt with seriously and appropriately.”
Ward has previous felony convictions for burglary, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident, and possession of cocaine. The 41-year-old will have to serve at least a quarter of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.
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