Man in Waco, Texas, gets 50 years in prison for stealing a $35 rack of ribs

Willie Smith Ward had five previous felonies and four convictions for misdemeanours

A habitual offender may have committed his final felony, after a jury sentenced him to 50 years for stealing a rack of ribs from a shop.

Willie Smith Ward, 43, attempted to steal the $35 large rack of ribs at the H-E-B store in Waco, Texas, by smuggling it underneath his shirt. Ward was then apprehended in the car park by a shopping assistant, who noticed the bulge and tried to stop him leaving.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, his act of theft was heightened to robbery when he threatened the employee by telling him he was in possession of a knife. According to the employee’s testimony, he added: “If you don’t leave me alone, I’ll show you what I got,” before running off. He was later arrested.

A jury in Waco’s 19th State District Court took just two minutes to convict Ward for robbery and an hour to recommend a sentence. Ward already had five previous felonies and four convictions for misdemeanours. His previous convictions have been for crimes including burglary, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of cocaine.

Assistant District Attorney J.R. Vicha, prosecuting, told Ward: “This verdict shows that the citizens of this county will not tolerate a continued disrespect and disregard for other people and their property. People who choose to do so will be dealt with seriously and appropriately.”

He will have to serve at least a quarter of his sentence before being eligible for parole. He allegedly rejected a 20-year prison sentence in a plea bargain before the trial.

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