February 21, 1995 in City

Man Admits Key Bank Robbery Defense Lawyer’s Request For Dismissal Rejected

By The Spokesman-Review

A 34-year-old Spokane man confessed to his third bank robbery after his attorney unsuccessfully attempted to get a charge tossed out.

The attorney for John J. Ballou sought dismissal of the federal bank robbery charge because police accidentally erased a bank video tape of the Dec. 1 holdup.

Defense attorney Kevin O’Shaughnessy argued destruction of the tape violated Ballou’s constitutional right to use police evidence in his own defense.

A brief portion of video showing the robbery of the Key Bank, E4220 Sprague, was erased accidentally while authorities were viewing the tape, officials said.

“There was no intent to injure our own case” against Ballou, Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks argued earlier this month before U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle.

O’Shaughnessy also argued that statements Ballou made after his arrest should be suppressed because he was too drunk to comprehend his constitutional rights.

The judge denied both defense motions after a hearing on Feb. 10. Last Friday, Ballou pleaded guilty as charged to the robbery.

The judge set sentencing for March 31.

Hicks said because Ballou committed two earlier bank robberies, he may qualify as a “career offender.”

If that determination is made, Ballou will face a minimum of 151 months - more than 12 years - in federal prison.

In the latest robbery, Ballou walked into the Key Bank and demanded cash from a teller.

He escaped with $1,148 and ran to a nearby apartment complex at S129 Havana.

Linda Neisess, who is casually acquainted with Ballou, said he ran into her apartment while the door was open and she was doing craftwork with a friend.

“He said, `I’ll give you $150 if you take my coat,”’ Neisess testified.

Ballou said he was “running from some girls” and needed a disguise, Neisess testified.

Ballou shaved his beard and offered to pay Neisess $40 for a pair of jeans.

Police surrounded the apartment complex after witnesses provided information about the fleeing robber.

FBI agent Mark Thundercloud said when he asked Ballou to empty his pockets, he produced a $20 bill. The serial number on the bill matched one of the bills taken in the robbery.

“Then he told me that he did indeed rob the bank,” Thundercloud testified.

The money taken in the robbery later was found in the oven of Neisess’ apartment, the FBI agent testified.

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