crime and punishment
Last May's Liberty Bar attacker receives 45 years in prison, blames drugs
The indelible image of Merri Gale Hieger collapsed on the ground outside of East Sixth's popular Liberty Bar post-attack was unavoidable for East Siders last May when the area was plastered with surveillance camera images of attacker and victim, begging for someone to identify the plaid-wearing perpetrator.
The Statesman reports that 29-year-old Steven Lawrence Keller was found guilty of aggravated robbery by a Travis County jury and sentenced to 45 years in jail on Wednesday.
Taking a page from the bath salts-fueled assailants of late, "Keller testified that all of his crimes have been driven by drug use. He said he has used drugs — including cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy — since he was a teen. He said he was high when he attacked Hieger but said drugs are 'no justification for what occurred,'" Steven Kreytak wrote for the paper.
On the stand, Keller claimed that this experience would be a step forward in changing his life. He first went to jail in 2003 and was released in 2010.
That statement seems a bit less credible based on the fact that "on cross-examination, Keller [was asked] to read from a letter he wrote parole officials in a past attempt to be released from prison. In the letter, written in 2009, Keller echoed many of the themes that he touched on in his testimony, including how he owed the officials respect and how he 'wants to be a productive and civilized human in society.'"
According to KXAN, police credit the publicity generated by the surveillance footage (warning: graphic content) of the attack in identifying Keller last May.