(SAN DIEGO) — An elderly, international jewel thief is fighting her early release from prison.
Doris Payne, 80, was convicted in January 2011 for stealing a diamond ring from a Macy’s in California worth almost $9,000, according to local affiliate KGTV located in San Diego.
“She doesn’t have anywhere to go, so she’s staying in there,” attorney Gretchen Von Helms told KGTV.
Von Helms receives letters regularly from Payne. In one letter, Payne described inhaling pepper spray during an inmate fight, resulting in her breathing “harshly.” She also bragged about a ring she stole in the 1960′s. The wife of baseball star Willie Mays was the prime suspect in the case and mistakenly arrested.
Just last year when Payne was convicted, she fought the five-year sentence.
“I really don’t think you should be that harsh with me. I am truly sorry this went on as long as it did,” Payne told the judge, who gave her the maximum term, according to KGTV.
Von Helms argued for a three-year sentence, citing the fact her client had serious health problems.
Payne stole jewelry for six decades, reportedly around the world.
“I didn’t start out stealing jewelry,” Payne told KGTV. “I started out making the salesperson forget it.”
In an interview with ABC News last year, Von Helms said Payne would dress to the nines, try on pieces of jewelry, banter with the clerk and, only after the fact, the clerk would realize a piece was missing.
Von Helms said the case in California was one of mistaken identity.
“She’s had a history of other times where she’s been accused righteously, and also accused falsely,” she said in the interview. “She has a certain notoriety.”
Payne reportedly had 20 recorded aliases, five Social Security numbers and nine dates of birth on record.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Frank Pallotta, CNN
Ralph Ellis, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Sara Zendehnam, CNN