A New Reason Not to ‘Mess with Texas’

Did a Texas court reassert its dedication to law and order? Or did prosecutors take “to the fullest extent of the law” too far?

That’s the question some are asking after Wednesday’s jury sentencing in the case of 43-year-old Willie Smith Ward, who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for stealing a $35 rack of ribs from a Waco grocery store, then purportedly telling an employee who tried to stop the crime, “I got a knife.”

The minor theft is a serious matter, though, because Ward it comes after nine other convictions: “For burglary, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of cocaine and four misdemeanor convictions, including two thefts,” the Waco Tribune reports.

“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 will have to serve a quarter of the sentence before being eligible for parole. He turned down prosecutors’ plea offer of 20 years prior to his appearance in court.

On the upside, at least he didn’t get the rack . . .

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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