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Pizza thief's life sentence reduced

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29 -- A California judge has sharply reduced the prison sentence of the infamous 'pizza thief,' who received 25 years to life in prison for stealing a slice of pizza. The Los Angeles Times reports (Wednesday) that a judge, using a newly granted discretion over sentences involving the state's 'three-strikes' law, said Jerry Dewaye Williams' crime did not warrant a lifetime behind bars and reduced his sentence to a maximum of three years.

In March 1995, the 27-year-old Williams was convicted of petty theft and given the harsh sentence for snatching the pepperoni pizza from four children who had refused to give him a slice. Just minutes after the incident, Williams -- a five-time felon -- was arrested by officers who had been summoned by the pizza shop manager. During the trial, prosecutors pushed for the life sentence, saying Williams' lengthy criminal history proved he was a repeat offender who had not learned from his previous punishments. But in his ruling, Superior Court Judge Donald J. Pitts said Williams' crimes were not marked by violence and in the 'great pantheon of felony offenses, petty theft is a relatively insignificant crime.' Subtracting the time Williams has already served in prison, his attorneys told the Times that he could be released as early as March 1999. ---

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