Former child star Lionel Tate, who at the tender age of 12 committed his first murder, struck a plea bargain today. The sentence: 30 years in prison. The crime: armed robbery of 4 large pepperoni pizzas.
On a steamy Wednesday evening in May 2004, a hungry and Play Station weary Mr. Tate ordered 4 pizzas from Papa John’s. Mr. Tate was prepared, but not to pay the $22.87 due. Rather than greet the deliveryman at the door, Mr. Tate sprung out from behind bushes armed with a handgun. The delivery driver dropped the pizzas and ran, but Mr. Tate chased after him hoping to score some extra garlic butter.
Lionel Tate pictured here wearing a Hamburglar costume.
Prosecutors had plenty of evidence tying Mr. Tate to the robbery, including his fingerprints on three of the four pizza boxes. Ellis Rubin, Mr. Tate's lawyer, called the evidence against his client "overwhelming" and said he was satisfied with the plea deal in between nibbles of Pizza Huts new Cheesy Bites™.
“You are in a deep dish of trouble” said Judge Lazarus of the Broward County Circuit Court, comparing today’s ruling with the thin crust sentence of ‘time-out’ and probation Mr. Tate had been serving for murdering a baby in 1999.
Outside the court house delivery drivers rejoiced. “It’s a real victory,” said Ronny Baldo after the hearing. “I just didn’t feel safe delivering pizza with Terrible Tate on the streets.” Mr. Tate's mother, Kathleen Grossett-Tate, blotted oily tears from her face with some paper napkins and said she felt relieved with the plea. "It's very emotional," she said. "I'm very hopeful Dominos will now deliver."