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Hagerstown man sentenced to 20 years in prison for robbing bank twice

David Courtney Zeller pleaded guilty in November to two counts of robbing the Sovereign Bank

May 26, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Zeller
Zeller

A Washington County Circuit judge Tuesday sentenced a Hagerstown man to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty previously to robbing the same bank two times in two weeks.

David Courtney Zeller, 58, formerly a resident of the Dagmar Hotel on Summit Avenue, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of robbing the Sovereign Bank at 100 W. Washington St. on March 9 and March 23, 2010.

Sentencing by Judge Donald E. Beachley was delayed at the time to allow a hearing to determine if Zeller was criminally responsible for his actions.

At a February hearing Zeller testified that "voices in my head" prompted him to rob the bank to get money for rent. He testified his medications were also below their usual dosages.

Zeller, who had been paroled from state prison a month before the robberies, testified he became paranoid after the first robbery and wanted money to leave town.

A forensic social worker for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender testified at the February hearing that Zeller's was a diagnosed schizophrenic.

But Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson presented a report at the hearing indicating that Zeller was not substantially impaired.

A teller working the day of both robberies testified at the February hearing that Zeller appeared "very calm" during the March 9, 2010, robbery. On March 23, he was threatening and told her the backpack he was carrying could be detonated with a cellphone, she testified.

Zeller got away with about $1,500 in the first robbery, but was apprehended by Hagerstown police after fleeing the bank on March 23. Police said he was carrying $66,000 after that holdup.

Beachley imposed two consecutive 10-year sentences, with no time suspended, Wilson said Tuesday. The plea Zeller entered in November called for a sentence of up to 20 years, allowing for the defense to argue for less, Wilson said.

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