September 2, 2009

A Lesson For Wives... (2)

[It seems like this is going to become a series (see part 1). - J.S.]

Bank Robber Wanted Time Away From Wife:
Judge sends 39-year-old away to prison for 3 to 6 years

Sep 01, 2009

A bank robber offered an unusual explanation Monday for why he held up an Ephrata bank in 2007.

He did it to get away from his abusive wife, he told a judge during his sentencing in Lancaster County Court.

In fact, Anthony Miller, 39, wanted so badly to escape his wife — even if it meant going to jail — that he repeatedly asked tellers during the robbery, "Did you call the police yet?"

"She was very abusive to me," Miller told Judge Louis Farina. "I was scared. She threatened to commit suicide if I ever left her."

Miller's defense attorney, Robert Beyer, said that when the woman, now Miller's ex-wife, came to pick up his car after he was taken into custody, she met with the arresting officer.

After 20 minutes with her, the officer said, "I was ready for jail, too," Beyer dryly noted.

Farina sentenced Miller to 3 to 6 years in prison, a little longer than Miller had wanted. Beyer asked the judge to give Miller, who has already spent 31 months in prison, a sentence of time served.

The judge, however, said Miller committed a serious crime and used a BB gun that looked like a real gun during the robbery, even though it wasn't loaded and he never threatened anyone with it.

Farina said, "I accept he may not have wanted to hurt anyone. He made a very bad decision under a period of stress."

Turning to Miller, the judge said, "We have to make sure you don't do that again."

Miller pleaded guilty in June to the robbery of the Ephrata National Bank on Martin Avenue in February 2007.

The day of the bank robbery, Miller purchased a BB gun at Wal-Mart, took it out of the box and went to the bank, Beyer said.

Miller stayed at the bank for four minutes, as tellers collected money. A witness said, "He wanted someone to call the police."

An employee did trigger an alarm and police, who were nearby, arrested Miller as he left the bank.

When he walked out of the door, Miller hesitated for a moment, Beyer said, thinking that he might want police to kill him and "have this be over with," but then changed his mind.

Miller, who has no criminal record, decided to rob the bank after a series of problems — marital, financial and emotional, Beyer said.

Miller met his wife through a Christian dating Web site. She moved to the county from Washington state and the couple was married in 2004.

The pair soon had problems and Miller wanted to end the marriage, but his wife threatened to overdose on pills, he said.

During this time, Miller also struggled with depression. A welder, he had a job that did not offer health insurance and he said could not afford the medications he needed for his condition.

Feeling desperate, he saw the bank robbery as a way to get away from his wife.

Farina listened and then noted a very curious thing: When Miller was arrested, he asked police if he could call his wife.

Beyer said, "He didn't say what he was going to say."

"Goodbye? It's your fault?" Farina asked, his eyebrows raised. "So it's her fault?"

Beyer responded that Miller doesn't blame anyone but himself.

"His wife's actions drove him to it?" Farina asked. "He saw this as his way out?"

"Absolutely," Beyer said.

Miller weighed in, saying, "I certainly wasn't thinking straight. That's not the way I normally act. I believe I had a nervous breakdown that day."

Farina told Miller that he traumatized people in the bank with the gun.

The judge said he wanted to give Miller more than just the time he had already served in prison so he could get evaluated and counseled.

"You need enough time and supervision so we can identify what are your problems," he said.