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Martinsburg man sentenced to 10 years in bank robbery

April 14, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

A Martinsburg, W.Va., man was sentenced Wednesday to serve 10 years in prison for robbing a Hagerstown bank last year.

Bobby Gene Shelly, 34, of 28 Fletcher Court, was found guilty by a jury during a one-day trial in Washington County Circuit Court. He was charged with one count of robbery and one count of theft more than $500.

Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III said he didn't impose a sentence on the theft charge because it was merged with the robbery charge, which carried a maximum penalty of 15 years.

"You're considered to be a major offender," Boone said. "You're just a thief. Thank God you didn't have a weapon."

Shelly was convicted for the June 26, 2009, robbery of the M&T Bank at 17724 Garland Groh Blvd.

Boone said two other bank robbery cases involving Shelly would have to wait "for another day."

Last year, Shelly was charged with robbing M&T Bank branches at 14 W. Potomac St. in Williamsport and near Valley Mall, according to court records.

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M&T Bank teller Sarah Osik, who was working at the branch on Garland Groh Boulevard the day of the robbery, pointed at Shelly when she was asked whether the robber was sitting in the courtroom.

Osik said Shelly walked up to her teller window with a note that said, "Quickly and quietly, hand me your loose bills. No bait packs or dye packs."

"I kind of froze and realized what was going on," Osik said.

Osik gave Shelly "$1,447 and some change" before he asked her to return the note, she said.

Osik said she told the other bank employees they had been robbed and pressed a button to sound the alarm and lock the door.

Jeff Norris, a detective with the Frederick County Bureau of Investigation, testified he was sitting in the bank parking lot waiting for his wife, Amy, to finish making a deposit inside.

He said he looked in one of his mirrors and noticed a man running past. Norris admitted he didn't see the man's face, but said he noticed a "brilliant blue" pickup truck in the parking lot.

Shelly's brother, Charles Shelly III, testified for the defense, saying he used the truck described by Norris to go grocery shopping in Martinsburg around the time of the bank robbery. Assistant Public Defender Carl F. Creeden produced a copy of what he said was a food stamp receipt to verify Charles Shelly's claim.

Hagerstown Police Lt. Thomas Alexander testified that he was off duty and was getting ready to merge onto Interstate 81 South near Garland Groh Boulevard when he saw a blue truck quickly approaching in one of his mirrors.

He said that as he slowed down to let the truck pass on his right-hand side, he noticed a tattoo on the left side of the driver's neck. Alexander acknowledged that he couldn't identify the driver, but said the tattoo seemed similar to Bobby Shelly's.

On June 30, an FBI agent provided information to police about Shelly, according to the application for statement of charges. Shelly recently had been released from Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester, Va., which provided a booking photo that looked similar to photos of the robber, police said. Police used the lead and went to Shelly's Martinsburg home.

Hagerstown Police Detectives Lauren Burke and Anthony Fleegal testified that they conducted surveillance at Shelly's residence on June 30 and saw a blue pickup truck parked on the property.

They returned July 2 with more officers to make the arrest, according to court documents.

In her closing argument, Assistant State's Attorney Michele Hansen urged the jury to consider the testimony of Osik, who dealt face-to-face with the robber and recognized Shelly in the courtroom and from a photo lineup.

"She identified the defendant as the person who robbed the bank that date," Hansen said.

Creeden said in his closing argument that of all the witnesses the prosecution produced, only Osik could come close to identifying Shelly. He said Osik guessed that the robber was about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, while Shelly is closer to 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

"This (description) identifies the suspect," Creeden said. "It doesn't identify my client."

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