Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Squatter to Get New Sentencing Hearing

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Gentry
  • Gentry
The woman convicted of squatting on a $2.4 million East Memphis home in 2013 will get a new sentencing hearing after she won an appeal last week from a state court.

Tabitha Gentry was sentenced last year to serve 20 years in prison after a jury convicted her of theft of property valued at over $250,000 and aggravated burglary.

Gentry and others were found squatting in the vacant East Memphis mansion. She had chained the gates of the mansion property and hung signs, which read “ Moorish National Republic,” and “I, Abka ReBay, seize this land.” Gentry told officers "Abka ReBay" was an alias.

In 2013, other “Moorish Nationals” were laying claim to vacant property because, they said, their ancestors were here first. A similar case arose that year with a Moorish National squatting on and claiming a posh, 12-bedroom home in Bethesda, Ma.

After Gentry was convicted, she was sentenced to 20 years for her crimes in the squatting case. She was already serving a 14-year prison sentence for other crimes.

The trial court last year decided Gentry should serve those two sentences consecutively, meaning that she would begin serving her 20-year sentence after her 14-year sentence was complete for a total of 34 years. But a decision this week from the Court of Criminal Appeals, will allow Gentry to get a new sentencing hearing and, possibly, a shorter prison stay.

Consecutive charges are mandatory for felons in Tennessee. However, the appeals court said Gentry was not a felon at the time and ordered a new sentencing hearing for her. The new hearing could allow Gentry to serve the sentences concurrently, meaning she could serve a total of 20 years.

Gentry is currently held at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.

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