A transient who claimed he was under the influence of demons when he robbed a Topsy Lane bank was sentenced Tuesday to two 15-year prison terms to be served concurrently.
District Judge Tod Young on Tuesday sentenced Jarell Williams, 27, to five to 15 years in prison on counts of robbery and making threats or conveying false information considering acts of terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.
Williams admitted entering a Bank of America branch Jan. 4 and demanding $260,000, saying he would blow up the bank if he didn’t get it.
He was arrested shortly thereafter, and the money was recovered. No one was hurt.
Williams’ lawyer, Kris Brown, said her client claimed he acted under the direction of an “entity” that directed him to rob the bank.
“I am not here to determine whether there’s an entity that speaks to you,” Young told Williams. “All I can tell you — whether you believe in an entity or not — is that you made the wrong choice.
“You used the phrase ‘evil won.’ Your going to prison is the message here that evil did not win. You are being punished; the law prevailed. The law stands for good,” Young said.
He reminded Williams that the defendant will be 42 when released if he serves the maximum time.
“You will be faced with choices now through the rest of your life. You need to make the right choice.”
Williams said he chose not to seek help because he feared he would end up in a mental hospital.
Two bank employees testified at the sentencing about how the robbery affected their lives and families.
“You appeared to me to be a suicide bomber,” one woman said. “I never felt so helpless in my life.”
She said her children were coming to the bank to have lunch with her, and when they arrived, police were surrounding the parking lot.
“My children had nightmares for weeks. I never truly have a sense of freedom or safety,” she said.
The second woman said she couldn’t look out the bank window without wondering if someone was coming in to rob the bank.
“You didn’t plan on dealing with me,” she told Williams.
The woman said that because of her training, she was able to push the silent alarm, signal to her co-workers and escort Williams to the vault without involving anyone else.
District Attorney Mark Jackson, who prosecuted the case, displayed Williams’ bank note, the vest he made to look like it contained improvised explosive devices, and a BB gun officials found in his car.
Jackson said psychologists and doctors who examined Williams didn’t believe his story about demons or entities or an “evil twin” named J.
He added this was the first case in his 23 years of practice in which a robber actually got into the vault.
Williams apologized in a lengthy statement. He said doctors and psychologists who examined him laughed at his symptoms.
“I need to apologize to those affected by my actions. I wish I would have been in the right state of mind. I really hate myself. I wish I’d gotten help,” he said.
Williams was wearing a fake improvised explosive device taped to his chest, complete with wiring and a wrist switch, court papers state. Once he got the money, Williams ran to a church parking lot where he got into a white sedan and drove away.
A person who heard the call on the police scanner saw Williams pull into a private driveway on U.S. Highway 395 north of Johnson Lane. She contacted deputies, and Williams was taken into custody.
He has been held in the Douglas County Jail with bail set at $300,000 for 138 days and was given credit for time served.