Man Gets 3 Years Probation for Stealing Woman's iPhone

A 54-year-old man was sentenced Monday to three years felony probation for stealing an iPhone from a woman while she was riding her bike from her job in Emeryville to her home in West Oakland two years ago.

Alameda County prosecutors said Jesse Williams was in his car and then pursued the woman while she was crossing through the intersection of Mandela Parkway and Horton Street near the East Bay Bridge shopping center in Emeryville on Jan. 27, 2017.

Williams then hit the victim with his car, a 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis, flinging her off her bike and onto her back, prosecutors said.

Williams confronted the woman while she was on the ground, hit her on her head and snatched the iPhone from her hand. During her interaction with Williams, the victim noticed what she believed to be a pistol grip protruding from his pants, prosecutors said.

When Williams drove away from the scene, he pointed what turned out to be a pellet gun at the woman and threatened her life. He was later arrested in the 950 block of 12th Street in West Oakland and the woman's iPhone was recovered by law enforcement, according to prosecutors.

Although jurors found Williams guilty of second-degree robbery in their verdict on Jan. 31, they found him not guilty of a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Williams' attorney Brie Jefferson told Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay in a sentencing memo that Williams has already spent 524 days in custody, which she said is almost three times as much time as prosecutors offered him in a plea deal that he rejected because he wanted to stand trial.

Jefferson said she raised doubts about Williams' mental capacity shortly after she began representing him, and prosecutors and judges who handled his case went to trial "very quickly understood that this was not the typical case and Mr. Williams was not a typical defendant."

Jefferson said, "For these reasons they worked diligently to help Mr. Williams have the chance for a brighter future and essentially get out of his own way."

The defense attorney wrote that Williams "was essentially keeping himself in jail unless we intervened."

Jefferson said, "It is unclear if he failed to take advantage of (plea) offers because he just could not admit to himself what he had done or if he had a desire to stay incarcerated longer or what exactly his end game was."

Jefferson wrote, "I truly believe Mr. Williams will not be a threat to society just as he abstained from being a threat to society for 54 years."

Most of Williams's prior convictions were for misdemeanor conduct, such as trespassing, she said.

The victim wasn't injured and Williams wasn't armed with an actual firearm, according to the defense attorney.

Williams has lived in Houston for most of his life and moved to the Bay Area to visit and stay with family members shortly before the crime, Jefferson said.

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