Pa. Lifer, Whose Sentence Was Commuted, Gets Re-Arrested

A Philadelphia man whose life sentence was just commuted by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf was re-arrested Friday by Delaware County authorities, and didn’t get a second of freedom.

David Sheppard was sentenced to life behind bars for his role in a 1992 Philadelphia pharmacy robbery in which a co-conspirator shot and killed the owner.

But he also has an outstanding warrant on a 1992 shoplifting charge in Delaware County. It’s that warrant the district attorney’s office used to arrest Sheppard after his release from prison.

Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said in a statement that “the issue here is not about the shoplifting charge [but instead] the complete failure of the criminal justice system to give victims and their families a voice.”

“The family of the victim was never notified that this individual was appearing before the Board of Pardons and seeking to have his sentence commuted,” Copeland, a Republican who was voted out of office in November during a regional blue wave, said. “Victims and their families deserve a role in the process, but, in this case, the family was wrongfully denied that opportunity.”

Sheppard’s life sentence was commuted Thursday by Wolf. He’ll still have to spend a year in a halfway house and the remainder of his life under parole supervision once all his legal issues are finalized.

    Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who confirmed that Copeland’s office notified the state prison system of its plans to detain 54-year-old Sheppard after he left prison Friday, called it “a cheap political stunt of a losing elected official.

    “To abuse the power of your office, to jam somebody up and thwart the will of the commonwealth … illustrates to me why you’re on your way out,” he said.

    Fetterman also called Copeland’s actions an alarming example of “prosecutorial abuse of power” by disrupting what should have been the first morning of a new life for someone who has paid his debt to society.

    Sheppard’s adult sons, who were young children when their dad went to prison, also said he has served his time and deserves to be released.

    “I feel like it’s fair because, at the end of the day, a crime was committed [and] time was served,” Devin Sheppard said. “Everybody did stupid stuff when they were younger.”

    *story by NBC 10 Philadelphia