TX Shoplifter Gets Life after Walmart Worker Dies

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 28, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Texas man is facing a harsh sentence for a shoplifter. He was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for stealing a TV from a Walmart valued at around $348 in June 2010.

William Alan Kennedy, 38, knocked down 56-year-old Bruce Florence, a Walmart employee, during the shoplifting incident.

Florence hit his head and was hospitalized. He died 9 days later.

Kennedy was never charged in Florence's death. In fact, a medical examiner determined that Florence died from end-stage liver cirrhosis, according to the Star-Telegram.

So, if Florence didn't die because Kennedy knocked him over, why is the shoplifter facing a sentence of life in prison?

It's likely because the jury found him guilty of aggravated robbery.

In Texas, aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony. Aggravated robbery is essentially a crime of robbery, but with several "aggravating" factors that make it a more serious crime.

The aggravating factors include:

  • Causing serious bodily injury to another.
  • Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon.
  • Causing bodily injury to another person, or placing someone in fear of bodily injury if the victim is 65 years of age or older or is disabled.

A person convicted of a first-degree felony is punishable by a prison term between 5 to 99 years or life under the Texas Penal Code.

The judge who sentenced Kennedy likely found that his actions were dangerous and caused serious bodily injury.

And, Kennedy's sentencing was likely compounded by the fact that he was also convicted on Wednesday of 5 other state felony charges of theft of property, reports the Star-Telegram.

The prosecuting attorney indicated that they hoped Kennedy's case would serve as a warning. It probably will, as such a long sentence probably sends chills down the spines of any would-be shoplifters. Life in prison for a $348 television is a hefty price to pay. William Alan Kennedy's attorney likely agrees - and has already filed an appeal.

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