WASHINGTON (CNN) --A sharply divided Supreme Court upheld long prison sentences given to two men whose theft of golf clubs and videotapes placed them under California’s controversial “three strikes you’re out” law. . . Justices ruled on two separate cases involving California’s then-novel 1994 law, which provides for mandatory prison terms of 25 years to life for career criminals convicted for the third time of a felony. . .
Gary Ewing is serving 25 years to life for stealing golf clubs from a Los Angeles country club. In his case, the prosecutor had the option of charging Ewing with a misdemeanor but chose to try the case as a felony. The state supreme court had rejected Ewing’s appeal of his sentence. His lawyer said Ewing has AIDS and expects to die soon.
In the other case, Leandro Andrade was given a 50-year sentence in 1995 for stealing videotapes in two southern California stores. While in most cases the crime would have been a misdemeanor, Andrade’s prior felony burglary convictions turned it into a felony, his third.
Leandro Andrade was given not one but two sentences of 25 years-to-life for stealing nine children’s videotapes, including “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Free Willie 2.” The tapes were worth $153.54 . . . Andrade got the 25 years doubled for two cases of shoplifting, which became his third and fourth strikes under California