Suspect pleads guilty to bank robbery |

Suspect pleads guilty to bank robbery

by Sheila Gardner

A 27-year-old transient faces up to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing $105,000 from Bank of America, and threatening to blow up the bank with explosives he told employees were taped to his chest.

In an agreement with the district attorney's office, Jarell Williams pleaded guilty to robbery and making threats or conveying false information concerning acts of terrorism or weapons of mass destruction, both felonies.

District Judge Tod Young set sentencing May 21.

Williams was arrested shortly after the Jan. 4 incident, and the money was recovered and returned to the bank. There were no injuries.

He entered the bank branch shortly after noon, and demanded $260,000, or he would blow up the bank.

He told employees he had a handgun and 10 pounds of explosives.

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In return for Williams' guilty plea, District Attorney Mark Jackson agreed to recommend that the sentences on the two counts run concurrently. He will not argue for more than a 15-year maximum on count two. Williams is eligible for probation.

If Williams were sentenced to the maximum on both counts, consecutively, he would face 35 years in prison plus a $5,000 fine.

"Regardless of my mental state, or whatever was going on with me at the time, I apologize," Williams tearfully told the judge. "I understand whatever you have to do."

Young said he appreciated Williams' comments.

"It takes a lot to apologize," Young said. "You have been a gentleman to the sheriff's officers, you have been a gentleman to me. The fact that you apologized is important to you to get past this. You just turned 27. You have a lot of life ahead of you."

Jackson and Williams' attorney, Kris Brown, are free to argue at sentencing as to what would be appropriate.

The U. S. Attorney's office is not expected to charge Williams with any federal crimes, according to the agreement.

Young is not required to follow the plea agreement.

Court documents indicate Williams was wearing a fake improvised explosive device taped to his chest complete with wiring and a wrist switch. Witnesses say he was wearing all black when he ran into the bank shortly after noon.

Once he got the money, Williams allegedly ran out of the bank to a church parking lot where he got into a white two-door sedan and drove away.

Witnesses, who heard the call on the police scanner, saw the suspect allegedly pull into a private driveway on Highway 395 north of Johnson Lane where he was taken into custody.

According to reports, Williams' prior contact with law enforcement involved illegal door-to-door sales for which he received a warning.

He is in Douglas County Jail on $300,000 bail.

He recently returned from Lakes Crossing for the Mentally Disordered Offender, where he was determined competent to stand trial.

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