Pizza Robbery Lands Freed Killer Back in Prison

By: AP
By: AP

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) -- The man whose killing of a 6-year-old girl once made him the youngest person in modern U.S. history sentenced to life in prison accepted a plea deal Tuesday in a robbery that occurred while he was free on probation.

Lionel Tate, 21, is already serving 30 years behind bars because the robbery of a pizza delivery man violated his probation in the murder case.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Tate pleaded no contest to a robbery charge in the May 2005 pizza holdup but will serve no additional prison time.

Defense attorney Jim Lewis said the 10-year sentence on the robbery charge will run at the same time as the probation violation sentence.

"This is definitely a good outcome for him and hopefully it's not the end," Lewis said. He said he will continue to press to reduce Tate's total sentence to 10 years.

Tate was 14 when he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 killing of Tiffany Eunick, which happened when he was 12. His lawyers initially claimed the girl died accidentally when Tate imitated pro wrestling moves he had seen on television.

An appeals court overturned his first-degree murder conviction in 2004 after determining it wasn't clear whether Tate understood the charge. He was freed from prison under a deal in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years' probation.

If Tate had been convicted after a trial of the robbery charges, he could have been sentenced to life in prison again. He is tentatively scheduled for release in May 2031, according to the state Department of Corrections.

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