An Alabama man sentenced to life without parole for a $50 robbery is getting a second chance after a judge altered his sentence, ordering his release from prison.
Alvin Kennard was just 22 years old when he was sent to jail for the last time, Birmingham’s CBS 42 reported. The now 58-year-old has served over 36 years at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility after being convicted of first-degree robbery.
On Wednesday, Circuit Judge David Carpenter resentenced Kennard to time served and ordered that he be released from prison.
The Alabama man found himself behind bars after sticking up a bakery in the city of Bessemer in January 1983. A knife-wielding Kennard demanded the cash and managed to make off with just over $50.75 from the business, according to the outlet.
With a prior conviction (for burglary) already on his record, he was sentenced in 1984 to life in prison under the state’s Habitual Felony Offender Act. At his hearing Wednesday, Kennard’s attorney, Carla Crowder of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, argued that under Alabama’s current sentencing guidelines her client would’ve received a maximum of 20 years.
“Even if under today’s Habitual Offender Act, if that was invoked in this case, he’d be eligible for a sentence up to life,” Crowder told the judge.
The lawyer went on to make the case for her client’s release, highlighting that Kennard is currently housed in the prison’s honor dormitory and has not had a disciplinary infraction in more than 10 years. Crowder said she had no doubt that he “would do great on the outside.”
According to AL.com, Kennard apologized and thanked the judge before being resentenced Wednesday.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right.”
When asked his plans after release, the Alabama man said he will live with relatives in Bessemer and hopes to find work as a carpenter.
Kennard’s niece, Patricia Jones, rejoiced at news of her uncle’s release and said she knows he’s a changed man.
“God is just showing his power,” Jones, who said she’s been visiting Kennard in prison for as long as she can remember, told WBAL-TV.
According to Crowder, Kennard must still be processed by the Alabama Department of Corrections, so she’s unsure exactly when he’ll be freed.