On Wednesday, April 12, 36-year-old Larry Pearson was sentenced to 70 years in prison for spitting at Lubbock County Police Officers. The harshness of the sentence has stirred controversy online. However, prosecutors have stated that it is due to Pearson's criminal history.
Shortly before the incident, in which he spat at the officers, they attempted to stop him after he reportedly assaulted a woman with whom he was romantically involved.
Trigger warning: This article concerns domestic violence. The reader's discretion is advised
Larry Pearson has been convicted of two counts of harassment against a public servant. Prosecutors noted that he had prior convictions for aggravated robbery and continuous family violence. Prosecutors stated that when they sentenced him to 70 years, they considered the potential threat he continued to present to the public.
Responses to the sentencing of Larry Pearson
In response to the sentencing of Larry Pearson, many netizens claimed that he received such a harsh prison term because he is an African American. However, other netizens noted that his long history of violent crime may have been the cause.
One netizen, Suzanne, acknowledged the role of jurors in Larry Pearson's sentencing. However, she believed that they were solely focused on Pearson's act of disrespect aimed at authorities.
Other netizens, such as IGZ, believe that the media coverage of Larry Pearson's case has been misleading. His perspective was consistent with the claims made by prosecutor Jessica Gorman as she stated her rationale.
In an official statement, Jessica Gorman said:
“You’re not going to get 70 years for something like this when you’ve never been in trouble before."
According to Sentencing Media, the victim of the domestic assault flagged down a police car while escaping from the convicted criminal. The victim informed the responding officers that Pearson had a gun and had repeatedly struck her. Officials noticed that the girl had visible bruises, although the 'firearm' was actually an airsoft gun.
During his arrest, Pearson's aggressive behavior was not limited to spitting at officers. He was also accused of kicking the doors of the police car after he was detained. He also reportedly expressed that the victim of the domestic assault should have been arrested, not him.
Gorman claimed that Pearson's rap sheet indicated that he had no plans to cease his violent behavior.
“If you’re going to live the life of crime, you’re going to do that among other criminals [in prison]."
According to the New York Post, Jim Shaw, Pearson's defense attorney, believed that it was unjust that Pearson was being punished for his entire criminal history rather than the misdemeanor offense he was being tried for. Due to Pearson's past offenses, the minimum sentence he could have received for the charges was 25 years in prison.