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Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lawrence resident pleads guilty in bank robberies

August 23, 2012

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A 26-year-old Lawrence man pleaded guilty Thursday morning and admitted robbing a Lawrence bank twice in 2011.

Elliott Reid Werner entered the pleas to three counts of robbery in two cases because he forcibly took money from employees at Central National Bank, 603 W. Ninth St., on July 14, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2011. Werner was apprehended by Lawrence police after the second robbery.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson initially had charged Werner only in connection with the November robbery. He was facing a trial on two counts of robbery for taking money from two tellers and one count of attempted robbery for walking near the bank intending to rob it but leaving instead.

Branson also filed a new, separate case Thursday morning against Werner for the July 14, 2011, robbery.

As part of his plea agreement, Werner entered guilty pleas to two robbery counts for the November incident and one robbery count for the July incident. Because the cases are treated separately, he faces more prison time than he would in a single, consolidated case, Branson said.

Prosecutors did drop the attempted robbery charge as part of the plea agreement.

In the November robbery, Werner is expected to face prison sentences of around 38 and 34 months each, but having those two convictions on his record means he has a more significant criminal history in the July robbery case, so he would face 114 to 128 months in prison.

Branson told District Judge Michael Malone he would request Werner serve all prison terms concurrently, or at the same time, meaning the lengthiest one would determine his sentence.

Defense attorney Michael Clarke is expected to ask for a reduction from the 114- to 128-month range.

“We will be opposing the request for reduction in prison time,” Branson said after the hearing.

Malone scheduled Werner’s sentencing for 2 p.m. Oct. 4.

“It is presumed you are going to go to prison on these matters. Do you understand that?” Malone said during the hearing.

“Yes, your honor,” said Werner, who has been in jail since his November arrest.

During a May preliminary hearing about the November robbery, bank tellers testified that a man told them he had a gun and to throw money into a bag. Police later found Werner hiding under a porch after a chase.

Lawrence police Detective M.T. Brown testified he interviewed Werner after he was apprehended and Werner admitted to having money problems and expressing remorse for what occurred at the bank. Werner also told police he did not have a gun during that robbery.

In his plea regarding the July robbery, Werner admitted to forcibly taking money from a teller and leaving the bank. Branson said about $8,000 was taken in that robbery. It was not recovered, so Werner will be required to pay that amount as restitution.

“Any robbery is a serious crime,” Branson said. “A lot of emotions and fear go through the mind of a victim in a robbery.”

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