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Judge considers early release of bank robber

October 21, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Pennsylvania man sentenced last year to serve six years in prison for a Smithsburg bank robbery is awaiting word on whether he may soon taste freedom after serving 16 months.

Richard Lenard Morrow, 41, of Waynesboro, appeared Wednesday before Washington County Circuit Judge Don Beachley, lobbying for a reduction in his sentence.

"I lost my mind that day," Morrow said, referring to the events of June 18, 1998, when he walked into the Farmers and Merchants Bank at 22940 Jefferson Blvd. and demanded money.

Half an hour later, Morrow called 911 and turned himself in. He was in custody until his trial and sentencing last fall.

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While in prison, Morrow has aggressively addressed his alcohol addiction, according to defense attorney Mary Riley.

He also has secured employment in the graphics department of State Use Industries at Roxbury Correctional Institution, Riley said.

"I have a very complimentary letter from the SUI graphics department where you work," Beachley said.

Riley added that Morrow is on the honor tier at RCI. He has a key to his own cell, which means he can shower when he wants and go to recreation when he wants.

"We are asking for time served," Riley said, acknowledging the crime of bank robbery is serious.

If Morrow is released, he could live with his brother in the Hagerstown area, she said.

As an alternative, Riley also proposed converting the balance of Morrow's prison sentence to the local jail and allowing Morrow to enroll in the Jail Substance Abuse Program.

Beachley, who said he was inclined to grant a modification, added a third possibility of placing Morrow in a halfway house and asked Riley to explore that before her client makes his decision.

Ronald Frey, a representative of the bank that was robbed, told Beachley Wednesday his only question was about restitution.

Of the $3,436 taken in the robbery, police recovered all but a very small amount.

Morrow entered the bank at about 10:20 a.m. and demanded money from a teller, police said.

No weapon was displayed, and no one was injured.

The bank teller gave Morrow money that contained dye packs, and Morrow left the bank in a silver Oldsmobile with Maryland license plates, court records said.

Bank employees gave police a detailed description of the man, but it turned out it wasn't needed.

As Morrow drove on Kretzinger Road, the dye packs activated and the car broke down, court records said.

He walked to a nearby home and told someone there that his car had broken down and asked if he could use the telephone, court records said.

Morrow then reconsidered and told the homeowner to call 911, after which he told police that he had robbed a bank, court records said.

Shortly after the call, police arrived at the home and Morrow was taken into custody without incident, police said.

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