MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) — The new Delaware County district attorney will not pursue charges in the case of David Sheppard, the man who had his life prison sentence commuted by Gov. Tom Wolf. Jack Stollsteimer announced the DA’s office will no longer pursue a 1992 shoplifting case against Sheppard.
Those in Sheppard’s corner say the man will no longer be haunted by the prospect of heading back to prison.
The charges were over five pairs of jeans worth more than $300, stolen from a Springfield Township business.
“I just wanted to announce that we are ending the prosecution of the Delaware County case — the 30, excuse me, 28-year-old case of a pair of jeans that never left the Springfield Mall. We are not going to spend another dollar of the taxpayer’s money pursuing that case,” Stollsteimer said.
Sheppard never answered to the charges because later that year in 1992, he was an accomplice in the fatal robbery of Thomas Brannan, the owner of Love’s Pharmacy in Overbrook.
Brannan’s family added they were never made aware of action by the state to commute the man who played a role in their father’s killing.
“This is not a serious case, and the idea of that the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office would be pursuing it 28 years later is sort of a vendetta against a man who sentence was commuted for a far more serious crime, in fact, the most serious crime we have in the crime’s code just sends the wrong message,” Stollsteimer said. “We want to be fair and just to everybody and we think the fair and just thing to Mr. Sheppard is to dismiss this case.”
Sheppard was convicted and spent 28 years in state prison until Wolf commuted his sentence in the fall.
Stollsteimer’s predecessor in office, Katayoun Copeland, fought to keep the shoplifting case alive, arguing Sheppard should have taken responsibility for the charges and handled the matter 28 years ago.
“I really do think this was a political stunt by the previous district attorney to try to make some kind of point,” Stollsteimer said. “What, I’m not really sure.”
In a phone interview with CBS3, Copeland said it was Stollsteimer who was stoking politics by announcing at his first press conference the termination of a prosecution.
Max Orenstein, Sheppard’s lawyer, said his client would be pleased with Wednesday’s decision.
“This has been hanging over his head. It was always possible that if he were to go all the way to trial and he were convicted, it was always possible he could go back to jail,” Orenstein said.