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A judge on Monday ordered the release of Gregory Taylor, a man serving a potential life sentence for stealing food from a Los Angeles Church.

After 13 years behind bars for trying to break in to a church kitchen to find something to eat, a man who became an example of the harsh sentences allowed by California’s three-strikes law has been ordered released from prison.

A Superior Court judge amended Gregory Taylor’s sentence to eight years already served and the 47-year-old, who was sentenced in 1997 to 25 years to life, will be a free man in a few days.

Tears streamed down Taylor’s face and Judge Peter Espinoza asked a bailiff to get him a tissue.

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“I thought I was going to cry too,” said law student Reiko Rogozen, who started working on the case in January as part of Stanford Law School’s Three-Strikes Project, which filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking freedom for Taylor. “He was scared up until the last minute that it wasn’t actually going to happen.”

The district attorney did not oppose the group’s move.

Taylor quietly thanked the court and his lawyers for “giving me another chance … and my family for sticking by me.”

Taylor was arrested in July 1997 while trying to get into the kitchen of St. Joseph’s Church in downtown Los Angeles. He told officers that he was hungry.


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