A dying thief who confessed to stealing a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizards of Oz” was ordered to pay restitution but will not serve jail time on account of his health.
Yesterday’s hearing handed down the sentence for Terry Jon Martin, 76, who stole the slippers in 2005 from the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Martin said he fell back into old habits and was tempted with the idea of “one last score” despite being out of prison for 10 years at the time. Martin said that an associate told him that the slippers must have been adorned with real rubies in order to justify their $1 million insured value, so he used a hammer to break into a protective case at the museum. Martin made off with the slippers, but when he connected with a “fence,” he was informed the rubies were fake. Afterwards he gave the slippers to an associate and said he never wanted to see them ever again.
Chief U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz accepted the recommendation of both sides that Martin be sentenced to time served since he is currently housebound in hospice care and expected to die within the next few months. Justice Schiltz told Martin that he probably would have sentenced him to 10 years in prison if it was still 2005. Despite no prison time being given, Martin was ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution to the museum.
“I certainly do not want to minimize the seriousness of Mr. Martin’s crime,” the judge said. “Mr. Martin intended to steal and destroy an irreplaceable part of American culture.”
Shoes Eventually Retrieved
According to his lawyer, Martin had not idea about the cultural significance of the ruby slippers and had never seen “The Wizard of Oz.” He was charged in 2023 after an investigation and phone records led law enforcement to suspect Martin. They used his wife’s immigration status as leverage to search his home and get him to confess to the crime.
He refused to identify his associate or anyone else involved in the heist, but the FBI eventually retrieved the slippers in 2018. While the FBI did not disclose many details about their retrieval, they said that they were approached by a man in 2017 who said he could help them recover the slippers for a price. They declined the man’s offer and eventually recovered the slippers a year later during a sting operation in Minneapolis.
We hope you can fend off that feeling of needing to pull off one last job, but if you end up succumbing to those urges and end up needing a criminal lawyer, we’re here for you. We also help clients who end up in handcuffs through no malice or ill-will, so we’re here for you in your time of need. For more information, or for help with a different criminal matter, reach out to Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.