By Joe Johnson
Athens resident Spratt Howard was 27 when he entered prison in 1995 to begin serving a life-without-parole sentence for an armed robbery conviction.
Now 52, Howard recently walked out of Baldwin State Prison as a free man.
Western Judicial Circuit Judge Lawton Stephens, who presided over Howard’s trial, imposed the life sentence due to Howard having been convicted of three prior felonies.
On June 9, an attorney for the Georgia Center for Human Rights filed in Clarke County Superior Court a motion to modify sentence that pointed out that Howard’s three prior felonies were non-violent offenses, and requested the sentence be changed from life without parole to time served.
“As of June 10, 2021, Mr. Howard, who is now 52 years old, will have served 25 years, and 21 days of his LWOP sentence,” attorney Patrick Mulvaney stated in the motion.
“He has a good institutional record and is a member of the Faith and Character Based Program at Baldwin State prison,” the attorney wrote. “In the event that he is resentenced and released, he would have strong support from his family members, who are stable, law-abiding members of the Athens community.”
The motion noted that Westen Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez agreed to a consent order that would modify the original sentence, withdraw the recidivist notice and impose a new sentence of time served.
Judge Stephens subsequently resentenced Howard to time served and ordered him to be immediately released from custody.
“Mr. Howard is grateful to be reunited with his family, including his sisters, brothers, and nieces and nephews, who have deep roots in Athens,” his legal team said in a statement Tuesday morning. “He is eager to engage in home improvement projects like landscaping, secure employment, and enjoy time with his loved ones.”