A judge sentenced 21-year-old Jerry Lee Ross to life in prison Monday for a house burglary, the latest of more than 30 felonies for the young man.
"It's well past the time for a lecture," Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Stanley R. Mills told Ross, who stood in the judge's chambers in handcuffs and blue jail overalls.
Noting that the points on Ross' sentencing score sheet exceed the minimum for a life sentence by a comfortable margin, Mills told Ross: "You score life, you earned it and, as of this second, you've got it."
Before the judge announced his sentence, Ross asked that he receive drug treatment and one-on-one counseling in state prison.
Mills replied that he did not know the state prison system to have personal counseling available for inmates. But he pledged he would request whatever help is available.
Ross has said he burglarized houses to finance a cocaine habit. The burglary that earned him the life sentence took place at a Tanglewood East house, from which Ross took a credit card and a Walther handgun.
Ross broke into his parents' house in Hudson twice last year, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Although he received a life sentence, Ross was not classified as a habitual offender. That status would mean he would not be eligible for some types of sentence reductions and would be among the last prisoners in the state system eligible for release, should the state ever need to release life felons before they die.
"I believe this is the right decision," Ross' attorney, William Webb, said about his client's decision to be sentenced Monday instead of drawing out his legal proceedings. "I believe it's the intelligent decision."
Webb had argued earlier that Ross should not be classified as a habitual offender because he had no history of violent crimes.