FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lionel Tate, 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 pizza robbery that occurred while he was out on probation.
Tate, 21, is already serving 30 years behind bars for violating his probation in the murder case. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Tate pleaded no contest to the May 2005 robbery of a pizza delivery man but will serve no additional prison time.
Tate attorney Jim Lewis said the 10-year sentence for the robbery conviction will run at the same time as the probation violation sentence. Lewis said he will continue to press to reduce Tate's total sentence to 10 years.
"This is definitely a good outcome for him and hopefully it's not the end," Lewis said. "Thirty years is too much. Lionel has made mistakes. But I think 10 years is plenty of punishment."
Tate was 14 when he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 killing of Tiffany Eunick, which happened when he was 12. Tate's lawyers initially claimed that the girl died accidentally while Tate imitated pro wrestling moves he had seen on television.
After his murder conviction was overturned on appeal in 2004, Tate reached a plea deal that included his release from prison on probation. It was this probation that a judge ruled he had violated through involvement in the pizza robbery.
If he had been convicted after a trial of the robbery charges, Tate could have received a life prison sentence once again. Tate had previously agreed in 2006 to plead guilty to the robbery, but withdrew it.
For now, Tate is tentatively scheduled for release from prison in May 2031, according to the state Department of Corrections.