Suspect in store attack has lengthy criminal history - WSMV Channel 4

Suspect in store attack has lengthy criminal history

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Skipper Kephart Skipper Kephart
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A violent convenience store robbery has raised a familiar question of how some convicted criminals are released from prison early only to break the law again.

Skipper Kephart, 47, who received a four-year robbery sentence last year, is charged with especially aggravated robbery and auto theft in connection with the Sunday attack of a convenience store clerk on Murfreesboro Pike.

Police said Kephart entered the Mapco store at 533 Murfreesboro Pike armed with a pry bar, raised the weapon over his head and demanded money from the 62-year-old clerk.

A struggle ensued, and the clerk was struck on the head with the pry bar, lost consciousness and fell to the floor.

Kephart then stole the entire cash register.

Kephart was convicted of robbery in Nashville in February 2011, felony theft in Rutherford County in 2009, rape in Wilson County in 1983 and auto burglary in Nashville in 1983.

Though the repeat offender was most recently sentenced to four years in prison, that sentence was to be served at 30 percent, which amounts to only 438 days behind bars.

This kind of sentence isn't uncommon, lawmakers say, and it all goes back to money.

"In the area of law and order, everyone likes the law. They don't necessarily want to pay for the order," said State Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis.

Prison records show Kephart was up for parole just three months after his conviction. Though it was denied, he was still set free in July - some 2 1/2 years shy of his four-year sentence.

Three short months later, police say, Kephart was at it again with the alleged attack of the store clerk Sunday.

"Where do incarcerated people fit into the scheme of things, in terms of what we spend are money on? Because those folks aren't going away," Kyle said.

Law enforcement officials say there are dozens upon dozens of people who committed serious crimes and wind up back on the streets early, as the prisons and most jails operate above capacity.

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