Career criminal Willie Smith Ward received a 50-year prison sentence Wednesday for stealing baby-back ribs. It reportedly took a Texas jury just two minutes to convict the five-time felon of the crime and about an hour to agree upon the sentence.
The 43-year-old Ward was arrested in September 2011 after exiting an H-E-B supermarket with a package of baby-back ribs tucked underneath his shirt without any intention to pay for the item.
Due to his five prior felonies and four misdemeanor convictions
, the Waco, TX jury viewed Ward as a habitual criminal and showed little hesitation in issuing the 50 year prison sentence, the Waco Tribune reported.
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The theft escalated to a robbery when Ward threatened a store worker who confronted him in the store's parking lot after he noticed the bulge underneath Ward's shirt as he exited the store.
According to the store employee, when he stopped Ward in the parking lot, the felon dropped the package of ribs to the floor and told him, "I got a knife."
The employee claims he told Ward, "Now you just turned a ticket into a serious crime."
According to the clerk's testimony, Ward told the store clerk, "If you don’t leave me alone, I’ll show you what I got," before fleeing the scene.
Ward's prior felony convictions include burglary, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of cocaine, the Waco Tribune reports.
At least two of his four misdemeanor convictions were related to thefts.
"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. "People who choose to do so will be dealt with seriously and appropriately."
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Ward must serve at least a quarter of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Before the trail, Ward rejected a 20-year prison sentence in a plea offer from prosecutors, according to a court official.
The baby-back ribs which Ward stole were worth just $35.
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