Career Criminal Gets 75-Year Sentence

Prosecutors say hefty sentence for admitted carjacker is appropriate

A 75-year sentence handed to an admitted Fort Worth carjacker who led police on a high-speed chase should send a message to other criminals, prosecutors say.

"The habitual-offender laws were made for people like Danny Kennedy," Assistant Tarrant County District Attorney Sherry Whelchel said.

Kennedy was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison after pleading guilty to a crime spree on Dec. 4, 2009.

The ex-con, who had just been released from prison three months earlier, admitted to robbing a used-car dealer and crashing the stolen car near Loop 820 and Beach Street.

He then stole another pickup at gunpoint from Donny Collins, who was stopped at a red light.

"He told me to get out of the truck and give him the truck," Collins remembered Friday. "I said, 'OK. You win.'"

The dramatic police chase that followed was captured on video by a Fort Worth police helicopter.

The footage shows Kennedy going airborne over a bridge and crashing onto Holiday Lane. The truck ended up sandwiched under the overpass.

"It gave a good indication how desperate he was," Whelchel said. "He was willing to use any means available to get away."

Prosecutors wanted a hefty sentence -- largely because of Kennedy's long criminal record. He had been convicted of eight felonies and was on parole after being released from prison three months earlier.

"He was basically a one-man crime spree that day," Whelchel said.

Kennedy was also charged with trying to escape from the Tarrant County jail after deputies received a tip and searched his cell.

"They found homemade civilian clothing, they found homemade handcuff keys, they found bits of razor blade," the prosecutor said. "The plan was to knock a guard out and then escape."

Kennedy pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison.

Kennedy, 42, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"That was pretty good," Collins said. "Keep him behind bars. That way he won't hurt nobody else or affect anybody."

"It was just clear that he was not going to change," Whelchel said. "I thought it was appropriate."

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