A judge in Austin, Texas sentenced a 37-year-old African American man to 45 years in prison on Thursday after a jury found him guilty of robbing an elderly woman’s purse last year at a Sears department store.
In sentencing Willie James Sauls to 45 years on Thursday, State District Judge Bob Perkins said, according to The Austin American Statesman, that Sauls’ prior arrests for retaliation and robbery were factors in his lengthy jail sentence.
Sauls was found guilty on Tuesday of aggravated robbery, a crime that injured left an 84-year-old woman handicapped last September after he gravbbed her purse and knocked her to the ground while pretending to hold a door open, then dashed to an SUV waiting nearby. Sauls took a credit card from his victim’s purse and used it to buy $99 worth of goods from a nearby convenience store.
The woman, Anna Warren, was bruised down one side of her body and sustained a shoulder injury that limited her arm’s mobility. The attack was caught on the store’s security cameras.
Police eventually released that security footage to local media in hopes that a tipster would come forward. Prosecutors said Sauls’ girlfriend and another person eventually identified him as the man caught on camera.
Surprisingly, Sauls is actually the second man in Austin to be given a 45 year sentence for purse snatching this year. 30-year-old Steven Keller was sentenced to 45 years in prison in June after he punched a woman in the face and stole her purse late one night in Austin’s famous 6th Street party district. He also had two prior convictions.