Bobby Shirley had already been banned from HEB for stealing DVDs when he went into Walmart on Aug. 8, 2014, and stole an assortment of random items to include bananas, hair removal wax, Fritos and two pillows.
On Monday, Aug. 17, the 66-year-old repeat offender went before judge and jury again in Tom Green County, this time on his eighth theft charge since 1976.
Charged with theft of less than $1,500 with two or more previous convictions, Shirley pled not guilty before the court and evidence was put on by 51st District Attorney Jason Ferguson for the state and defended by John Sutton as court-appointed counsel.
During the trial, asset protection personnel from Walmart testified that Shirley put the merchandise in his basket and left the store without paying and was stopped outside. A Walmart associate grabbed him and took him into the office. When police arrived, he was charged with theft.
In his defense, Shirley contended that he had never left the store, despite being 25-30 feet past the exit when a Walmart associate caught him and directed him back inside. He also testified that his wife had gone home to get his wallet and returned with it while he was still there, but that he had been charged anyway. His wife did not take the stand.
Shirley’s criminal record dates back to 1976, when he was convicted of a felony burglary of a vehicle. Three more convictions followed between 1997 and 1998 in Comanche County—all for theft—then in 2000, Shirley was convicted in Erath County for another theft charge. After 10 years without a theft conviction, Shirley found himself before a Tom Green County Judge in 2010 on a felony theft charge; however, in 2011, he committed another felony theft and had his probation revoked.
Shirley’s 2011 conviction followed a theft at HEB, during which he circulated the store collecting DVDs. As a result of the conviction and probation violation, Shirley was sentenced to 450 days in a state jail and was banned from the grocery store.
The offense for which Shirley was at trial last week took place after his release, on Aug. 8, 2014.
After hearing a day and a half of evidence, a Tom Green County jury deliberated for only nine minutes before finding Shirley guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The defendant opted to have the judge assess punishment.
Shortly after the jury was sent home and the punishment phase was soon to begin, Shirley began complaining of chest pains and was taken out of the courtroom on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, however was back in the courtroom on Monday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.
At Monday’s hearing, Ferguson asked for a sentence of 450+ days, while Sutton requested probation.
Around 4 p.m., 119th District Judge Ben Woodward reached a decision on punishment in the case and sentenced Shirley to 730 days in state jail, probated to five years. Shirley has also been barred from entering both HEB and Walmart.