Delco DA drops old shoplifting charge that held up clemency for man serving life

MEDIA, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The new district attorney in Delaware County announced Wednesday that his office is withdrawing a shoplifting charge that held up the release of a man who was granted clemency from the governor.

David Sheppard was sentenced to life for his role in a deadly murder in Overbrook in 1992. He spent nearly 30 years in prison until his sentence was commuted last month by Gov. Tom Wolf.

But before he could leave state prison, he had to deal with the shoplifting charge — also from 1992, where he was accused of stealing jeans from the Springfield Mall.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, who was sworn in on Monday, said one of his first decisions as district attorney is to end that prosecution of Sheppard.

“I honestly think it was just a political stunt. I think my predecessor is auditioning for a job in the Trump administration,” he said. “We are not going to spend another dollar of the taxpayers’ money pursuing that case.”

BREAKING: Delco DA Jack Stollsteimer announces they are dropping retail theft charges against David Sheppard. Sheppard recently had his life sentence for 2nd degree murder commuted. Calls it a “political stunt” by prior DA. @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/FFTC7YOofD

— Jim Melwert (@JMelwert) January 8, 2020

Later this month, they'll file paperwork to have the charge withdrawn.

Sheppard was one of four men convicted of the robbery and murder of pharmacy owner Thomas Brannan in ‘92. His release from state prison was delayed by two days, during which his case captured national headlines and captivated the likes of celebrity-turned-legal novice Kim Kardashian West.

Sheppard is currently living in a halfway house in Philadelphia. 

Former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland said her office warned the governor and lieutenant governor about the detainer, adding it had to be dealt with before his release. She said they had weeks to address it, but it was ignored.

“(For Stollsteimer) to call it a political stunt is an odd phrase, when the very definition of ‘political stunt’ is holding your very first press conference in office to announce the nolle pros (withdrawal) of shoplifting charges that you're intending to do in the future,” Copeland countered.

Copeland said her decision had nothing to do with shoplifting itself. Rather, she intended to make sure “a murder victim’s family’s voice was heard.”

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Listen to this episode of KYW In Depth, which explores the impact Sheppard's suddenly viral clemency case had on the two families at its core.