Feb 25, 2010 2:40 PM by Rob Kirkpatrick
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal denied arguments this week that 16 years in jail is excessive for a man convicted of purse snatching.
He had 11 prior felony convictions, according to the appeals court decision.
On March 22, 2003, Milton Anthony Wilks allegedly stole the wallet of a shopper in Lafayette. He was caught hiding in the
bushes in the area shortly after and was identified by the victim and store employees as the guilty party, court documents state.
A jury found Wilks guilty of purse snatching in September of 2008 and on March 2, 2009, state District Court Judge Glennon
Everett sentenced Wilks to 16 years in prison at hard labor.
In the court transcript, Everett is quoted as saying he could not remember ever having someone in his courtroom with 11 prior felony convictions.
By law, Everett could have sentenced Wilks to anywhere from two years to 20 years in jail. Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence.
Everett stated during the sentencing that for Wilks, "a maximum sentence ... in all likelihood is a life sentence" because of his age, 58 years old. The 16-year sentence provides Wilks with the possibility of freedom in his mid-70s, he said.
The appeals court determined that 16 years is not an excessive sentence in this case.
Wilks also appealed the trial court's decision, claiming too much time passed before he was tried. He was arrested in 2003 and tried in 2008.
The appeals court stated that the prosecution provided evidence that Wilks signed a court summons promising to appear for pretrial in October 2003 and his December 2003 trial. He did not show up for either.
Wilks finally appeared in court in October 2007 following his arrest a few days earlier. The appeals court denied Wilks' argument because the delay was caused by his own failure to show up for his trial.
Finally, Wilks appealed using the argument that the identification of him as the offender was not reliable. The Third
Circuit Court of Appeal also denied that argument.