When Richard Haskins showed up to court on Thursday morning, he had no idea that he was going to receive his sentence.
Arrested in December 2012 for attempting to rob the Wells Fargo bank on University Drive in Denton, the Wee Beasties singer has been in jail since last March for a probation violation. He knew he'd be going to prison, but the question was for how long; it could be anywhere from two years to 20, and the sentencing had been delayed several times.
"They were originally trying to give me several years and [my lawyer] Craig [Flory] got it down to four initially, then he did a bunch of work to get it down to two," says Haskins, speaking over the phone from Denton County Jail. "I just thought we were going to go in and get another offer. ... But we go into court and they're like, 'Here you go, sign here for two years. It's what you asked for. We're giving you the bare minimum.'"
Haskins admits he almost cried at the news — "It's the best case scenario," he says — and that his emotions are mixed at the prospect of having to go to prison. But it might not have to be for long, if all goes well.
"I already got nine and a half months under my belt, and if I make my first parole, I shouldn't be there more than a couple months," he says. Thanks to the time he's served, Haskins says the most time he'll have to serve is 15 months. "The absolute best case scenario would be that I get to go home right around Oaktopia or my birthday, so late September or early October."
That might still come a little too late for one wish that Haskins has: "The Misfits are getting together for one fucking concert at Riot Fest [in September]. I've been waiting to see them fucking play since I was 14 years old," he says. The Misfits haven't played together since 1983. "I hope I get out by the time that happens."
Still, Haskins is quick to sing the praises of Flory for getting his sentence down to the minimum. "Craig was really duking it out for me. He really put a lot on the line and did a lot of work — for free. It just blows my mind," Haskins says. "I told him today, 'Dude, I could kiss you on the fucking mouth, I'm not even kidding.' He was like, 'That won't be necessary.'" Haskins breaks out in a wheezing laugh. "He's a little stiff," he says, of Flory.
One of Flory's strategies included having Haskins' friends and fans write character letters to submit to the district attorney. "100 percent. Those letters 100 percent helped," Haskins says, enthusiastically. "I don't even know how many, but there were a lot. More than usual. A lot more than usual, from what I understand."
Less helpful, he says, was the involvement of his mother, Catherine Giles, who he claims was responsible for many of the delays in the sentencing. "She just kept getting in the way. Frankly, my mom really interfered heavily and made that hard," Haskins says. "[But] ultimately, her interfering wound up helping because, I think, deep down they wound up feeling sorry for me. I mean, for real."
Giles insists that her son's attempted robbery was the result of untreated bipolar disorder and that he's been denied the medical access he requires by the state of Texas. She says she's disappointed with the outcome of yesterday's sentencing because she feels Haskins needed to be sentenced to a mental health facility to receive help for his mental illness.
"I'm disappointed that Richard's needs were not adequately addressed medically," says Giles, who has spent years advocating for Haskins' medical needs.
Haskins says he'll most likely be sent to Gurney to serve out his prison sentence, but he might not know for sure until he's shipped off. "Basically, what happens is they come grab you in the middle of night. They don't tell you when they're going to grab you, just in case. From what I understand, the state of Texas has 45 days to come grab me," he says. "What inmates do here is they write a letter home to their loved ones or whoever and give it to one of their homeboys, and when they get shipped off he just sticks it in the mailbox the next day."
That's clandestine stuff, which Haskins admits makes him a little uncomfortable — "It's like, nobody knows where I'm at. Oh shit" — but says he understands the rationale behind it: "I think they do it in case you're, like, El Chapo and you're going to call in an air strike on the bus or something," he says, with another laugh.
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All the same, Haskins says he's looking forward to prison, having not had face-to-face interactions with any of his friends or family since he was arrested in March. (Denton County's in-person visits are conducted remotely, via video.) "Fuck, two-hour visits, face to face? Fuck, real chicken? Holy shit, that sounds awesome!" he says.
More importantly, getting sentenced is an immense weight off for Haskins, who can now look forward to getting a fresh start in the not-so-distant future. When he was originally released from jail two years ago, it came with a 10-year probation. There will be none of that this time, and even if he gets paroled it won't extend beyond those two years.
"It can't be extended, it can't be renegotiated. I got two years where I half-ass belong to the state and that's it," Haskins says. "I'm fucking ecstatic about that because can I just get back to playing and not have to worry about anything. I can just get back to my life and I'm so fucking excited about that."
Christian McPhate contributed reporting to this article.