So let me get this straight. John Albert Gardner got six years for molesting a 13 year old girl, but a guy steals a block of cheese from a 7/11, and he gets 7 years and eleven months. Only in California is this kind of judicial convolution accepted. JD
Woodland CA- A Yolo County judge on Monday sentenced a man who walked out of a store with a package of cheese in his trousers to seven years and eight months in prison.
Prosecutors had originally sought a life sentence for Robert Ferguson under the state’s “three strikes” law. They dropped that bid last month, saying a psychological report had convinced them that a life sentence wasn’t warranted.
At Monday’s hearing, Deputy District Attorney Clinton Parish urged Judge Thomas Warriner to consider at least one of Ferguson’s prior strikes – one for burglary and another for assault with a deadly weapon – and to sentence him to a lengthy term.
Parish said Ferguson was a career criminal who wouldn’t change. He had 13 prior convictions and had spent 22 of the past 27 years behind bars, yet still would not obey the law, the prosecutor said.
In 1994, Ferguson had escaped a three-strikes sentence, “Yet here we are again,” Parish said.
Defense lawyer Monica Brushia told the judge that Ferguson’s six prior burglary convictions occurred 30 years ago. His misdemeanor assault conviction was for throwing a soda can at one of his siblings when he was a teen, she said.
No weapons or injuries were associated with his crimes, Brushia told the judge.
She argued a psychologist’s report had concluded Ferguson was bipolar and had trouble controlling impulses to steal during manic phases.
His latest crimes were so petty that they hardly merited a prison sentence, she argued. “We’re talking about a pack of cheese,” she said.
On Jan. 6, jurors convicted Ferguson of two counts of petty theft for snatching a woman’s wallet from the counter of a 7-Eleven store and for stuffing a bag of Tillamook shredded cheese worth $3.99 into his pants at Woodland’s Nugget Market.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office charged the thefts as felonies.
When it came time to sentence Ferguson on Monday, Judge Warriner chose a middle ground. He accepted a probation department recommendation to disregard the prior strikes and to sentence Ferguson to the upper term for petty theft with priors.
The judge gave Ferguson 825 days of credit for his time in jail awaiting trial and said Ferguson would be required to serve half his sentence in prison. He will be eligible for parole in less than three years.