Clark pleads guilty in bank robbery

April 23, 1997


Staff Writer

Michael Shawn Clark pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court Tuesday to a Nov. 13 armed robbery of a bank and use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

Initially the 31-year-old Hagerstown man pleaded not guilty and a jury was chosen to hear the case of the robbery of the Hagerstown Trust Co. branch at 19922 Jefferson Boulevard.

Clark's attorney, Carl Creeden then tried to convince Judge John H. McDowell that the trial should be moved out of Washington County because of pre-trial publicity.


Creeden held up newspaper articles and pictures that appeared the day after the robbery, the next day when Clark had a bond review hearing and a few weeks later when a preliminary hearing was held.

McDowell disagreed that the publicity was extraordinary and denied the motion.

Clark then testified that he was under the influence of crack cocaine when he talked to police.

Testimony from Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Michael Potter was that Clark was alert and coherent when he first spoke to him the day of the robbery.

"He said he recognized me from Little League," Potter said. "And then he said he had done something stupid."

Clark told McDowell Tuesday he had used crack between midnight and 8 a.m. the day of the robbery. The robbery occurred just before 11 a.m.

But the questioning didn't begin until nearly 5 p.m., and even Clark didn't know how much the drug was affecting him then.

McDowell denied the motion to suppress the statements.

When both motions failed, Clark pleaded guilty to the two charges.

In exchange for the pleas, all other charges including robbery, felony theft, first-degree assault, transporting a handgun, reckless endangerment and a number of traffic violations were dismissed.

Clark was returned to the Washington County Detention Center where he has been since the robbery and subsequent high-speed chase through Hagerstown's North End. The chase ended when the car crashed into a fence near the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

No one was injured in the incident.

Sentencing in the Nov. 13 robbery was delayed and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.

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