Akilah Johnson, Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), May 24 2005
Lionel Tate, the youngest person in modern U.S. history to be sentenced to life in prison before he was released last year, has been arrested again — this time in connection with the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.
Tate, now 18, allegedly ordered four Domino’s pizzas from a Pembroke Park apartment Monday, and when the delivery man arrived, Tate “greeted him with a gun,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo. The delivery man returned to the restaurant and called police. Officers later arrested Tate in the area, Calzadilla-Fiallo said.
It is the second time Tate has been arrested since he was released from prison early last year. Under terms of his most recent probation, he could be sent back to prison to serve a life sentence.
Tate drew national and international attention in 2001 when he became the youngest American ever believed sentenced to life. He was convicted of the 1999 murder of 6-year-old playmate Tiffany Eunick. Tate was 12 at the time of the girl’s death, and his attorneys argued he was imitating professional wrestling moves when he accidentally killed her.
The jury, however, thought the girl’s injuries were too severe to be caused by an accident, and sentenced Tate to life without the possibility of parole.
High-profile attorneys and grassroots community groups took up the boy’s cause, appealing to the governor, the pope and the United Nations. Tate’s conviction and sentence were overturned and he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and in January 2004, he was released from prison.