A man who stole a rack of ribs was subsequently jailed for 50 years for the crime, Texas news sources report.
The 43-year-old Texan, Willie Smith Ward, was sentenced today to the half-century term after he was charged with the theft of a rack of ribs retailing for $35.
Ward’s conviction Wednesday was, however, not solely related to the ribs’ theft — previous convictions also influenced the hefty jail time imposed for stealing the meat back in 2011.
In the past, Ward has been convicted of felonies including attempted robbery, cocaine possession, burglary, aggravated assault, and leaving the scene of an accident. In addition, he has been convicted of two thefts, and four misdemeanors in total.
In light of Ward’s previous run ins with the law, the jury determined that despite the relatively low dollar value of the ribs, other factors (including the use of a knife, making the theft a robbery) indicated that he might continue to commit crimes.
The Waco Tribune quotes Assistant District Attorney J.R. Vicha, who said the harsh sentence for ribs theft sends a message about repeat offenders.
“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.”
According to the paper, Ward’s 50-year-long jail sentence will have to be served by at least one quarter of the term before he is even eligible for parole on the conviction.
Prior to being sentenced to 50 years in jail for ribs theft, Ward was offered a 20-year-long sentence as part of a plea bargain on the charge. He reportedly declined the offer of a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.