MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A Collierville family can sleep in peace for the first time in nearly two years now that they know the man who invaded their home will be behind bars for a long time.
Aaron Tate was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 by a Shelby County Judge for his role in the crime that happened in May 2010.
Judge James Lammey sentenced Tate to 138 years in prison, and it will take 60 years before he's eligible for parole. Lammey told the courtroom, "He should never have an opportunity to see the streets of Memphis, Tennessee again."
Tate was 35 years old when he and Curtis Keller broke into a Collierville home, beat the homeowner with a gun and held the wife and kids hostage at gunpoint, demanding money. One of the kids hid in the closet and called police; that's the only reason Judge Lammey says the family is still alive. "I remember very well the testimony from the the young man in the closet," Lammey recalls, "If ever there was a time in a person's life when they were frightened almost to death it was at that point."
In October, a jury found Tate guilty on nine charges, including aggravated kidnapping and robbery. Tate's lawyer, Juni Ganguli, asked the Judge to go with the minimum sentence of 50 years, because "given that the average life expectancy for men is 75 to 77 years of age, Tate is going to die in jail."
Judge Lammey told him, "It doesn't matter how old he is, to me the fact is that he is a dangerous, dangerous offender. This is two times he's done this."
In addition to prior convictions for shoplifting, drugs and robbery five years ago, Tate received three years probation for kidnapping his girlfriend. Prosecuting attorney Rob Ratton told the judge that Tate "put a knife to her stomach, beating her with her own rear view mirror before locking her in her trunk."
In calculating the sentence, Judge Lammey said, "If there ever was a dangerous offender it was Mr. Tate. Because of this I'm ordering these be run consecutive to each other." He ordered a maximum sentence, 138 years behind bars.
Prosecutor Eric Christiansen told abc24.com, "He had an opportunity to rehabilitate himself and he failed miserably, so I think the Judge made a good decision today, with respect to keeping him in jail for the rest of his life."
Ratton says Tate was a career criminal and needed to be stopped. "He was seeking out crime. He's shown through he record that he wouldn't stop."
Keller was also supposed to be sentenced but his lawyer couldn't be there; that is reset for the beginning of February. Prosecutors are asking for a 240 year sentence, saying Keller is one of few criminals who makes Tate look good.