posted on Nov, 16 2002 @ 01:07 PM
Strike 3! $11 theft gets career criminal 25 years to life in California prison
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - A career criminal was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison under California's three-strikes law for stealing $11
worth of wine, lip balm and breath freshener.
Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa called Ronald Herrera, 57, one of the worst criminals to pass through his courtroom, and prosecutor Darryl Perlin
said: "He's what the three-strikes law is all about." Herrera's record lists 17 serious felonies, including a 1971 home-invasion robbery and rape
of a woman and her 15-year-old daughter, the shooting of a police dispatcher, and six armed robberies in Virginia.
He was sentenced Thursday for burglary and petty theft at a supermarket.
At trial, his lawyer said Herrera has a brain injury that made him forget to pay for the items.
California's three-strikes-you're-out law, passed in 1994, is the toughest in the United States, mandating 25 years to life for a felony committed
by someone already convicted of two serious crimes.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this month on whether such sentencing amounts to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.