Louisiana Man Released After Life Sentence For Wallet Theft
Can you imagine being sentenced to life in prison without parole for stealing a wallet? That's exactly what happened to Henry Phillips of New Orleans 12 years ago.
Phillips stole someone's wallet off the counter at a McDonald's and when he was chased down he pretended to have a gun when he was confronted. He stole $20 out of the wallet before he was arrested a few blocks away.
In 2009 prosecutors used his two prior robbery convictions to invoke a harsher sentence. 12 years later, New Orleans prosecutors have agreed to drop the habitual offender sentencing enhancement that was placed on Phillips' sentence.
The current Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams and his staff have been reviewing old sentences in a new project to make sure the correct measures of justice were served.
Phillips’ attorney had this to say in a press release:
This case could have been a petty theft charge, but it was sentenced like a murder. In order to restore any sense of trust in our criminal legal system these cases have to be rooted out and purged.
Another thing that helped Phillips get released was letters from his victims of the wallet theft incident. The letters stated that the incident didn't damage their emotional well-being or lives. It also stated that they supported the release of Phillips.