Man who killed during Reno back robbery loses appeal
May 17, 2018
A man who killed a customer during a bank robbery in Reno in 2013 has lost his appeal to have his sentence reduced.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the petition of Van McDuffy, who was sentenced to consecutive life sentences for the killing of Charles Sperry, who tried to grab the gun during the robbery.
McDuffy, who had been arrested 62 times previously, entered a branch of the Bank of America in October 2013. He brandished a gun and demanded cash from one teller. Sperry, who was 80 years old at the time, tried to grab the gun. He was shot and later died in the hospital.
After the shooting, McDuffy went to a second bank teller and got more money. He escaped with $13,000 but was apprehended at a bus stop by an off-duty police officer.
McDuffy, who's now 71 years old, maintained the shooting was accidental and the sentence should be reduced to 10 years.
The appeals court said even if the discharge of the weapon was accidental, the defendant is still to blame. It upheld the instruction to the jury it doesn't require the finding the defendant had the intent to kill during the shooting.