North Carolina bank robber loses case at U.S. Supreme Court | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

North Carolina bank robber loses case at U.S. Supreme Court

Posted by on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 11:24 AM

Quoting Charles Dickens and equating hostage-taking with walking down the wedding aisle, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia declared in an opinion published yesterday that a North Carolina bank robber should receive a 10-year sentence enhancement because he temporarily held a woman hostage. The woman suffered from a fatal heart attack.

The Supreme Court's unanimous opinion in the case, Whitfield v. United States, makes any bank robber subject to a 10-year enhancement if they take someone hostage, even if only for a fleeting moment. The case originated in Gastonia, where in 2008 Larry Whitfield entered the home of 79-year-old Mary Parnell after fleeing from a failed bank robbery. Inside, he forced the distressed woman to move with him from one room to another, over a distance of nine feet. She died shortly thereafter. 

The case hinged on a 1934 federal law calling for a 10-year minimum sentence when a criminal "forces any person to accompany him" during a bank robbery or while fleeing. In his opinion, Scalia focused on the word "accompany." 

He offered various examples wherein one might "accompany" another across a very short distance: "from one area within a bank 'to the vault,' he wrote, or " 'to the altar' at a wedding." Consider, he added, the short distance it would take for a bank robber to travel to a window, in order to use a hostage as a human shield.

To hammer home his logic, Scalia quoted Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. ("Uriah 'accompanied me into Mr. Wickfield's room.' ")

In his failed argument, Whitfield tried to claim that the federal statute didn't apply to short movements. He is housed in a federal prison in South Carolina, and is scheduled to be released in 2032.
Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

@jerryg you said that the Mayor has no power over mental health, no power over policing and is a "weak …

by snake00 on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

The irony of this is that McFarlane has done a lot to help people who are just like Trump, like …

by hatethehater08 on McFarlane Bashes Francis for Speaking to Wake GOP Meeting, Links Him With Trump (News)

Most Recent Comments

@jerryg you said that the Mayor has no power over mental health, no power over policing and is a "weak …

by snake00 on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

The irony of this is that McFarlane has done a lot to help people who are just like Trump, like …

by hatethehater08 on McFarlane Bashes Francis for Speaking to Wake GOP Meeting, Links Him With Trump (News)

I never said you shouldn't vote, but maybe you shouldn't. You obviously can't take the time to understand what you …

by JerrryG on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

@jerryg so if the mayor has no power why should we vote then?

by snake00 on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation