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A 60-year-old San Bruno man with a criminal record going back to the 1960s could have faced 25 years to life in prison for stealing $19.83 worth of alcohol under California’s three strikes law, the district attorney said today. Frederick Howell Kennedy on Monday pleaded no contest to the Feb. 13 robbery, the most recent of nearly a dozen non-violent convictions on Kennedy’s record going back to 1968, District Attorney Steve Wastaffe said.
Wagstaffe said his office carefully reviewed the case and used its discretion to drop a prior strike offense and reduce the maximum recommended sentence to four years in prison. Wagstaffe called Kennedy an alcoholic who was “clearly down on his luck,” and said that his crime did not merit a 25-year-to-life sentence. On the day of the robbery, a manager at La Dora Liquors and Deli on San Bruno Avenue witnessed Kennedy steal four cans of Four Loko beer and a bottle of E&J Brandy and walk out of the store, Wagstaffe said.
When a clerk confronted him outside, Kennedy clenched his fist and swung at him before running away, prosecutors said. Police tracked Kennedy down a short time later and took him into custody. The man broke into tears, called his crime “stupid” and said he needed help to stop drinking, prosecutors said.
Wagstaffe said that if Kennedy enrolls in a substance abuse program before his sentencing on Sept. 4, Judge Mark Forcum has the discretion to lower the defendant’s prison term below the four years he agreed to in Monday’s plea deal. Kennedy remains in custody on $250,000 bail.
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