WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man who committed a string of bank robberies in the Washington area and carjacked an undercover police officer in 2001.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Derrell Lamont Gilchrist’s claim that he was denied favorable evidence at trial, and let his stand his conviction from U.S. District Court.
The lower court sentenced Gilchrist to 112 years in prison and ordered him to pay $54,595 in restitution for the crimes.
Court documents said Gilchrist participated in a string of bank robberies, beginning with the March 2001 armed robbery of a Columbia Bank in Greenbelt. That was followed by the April robbery of a Bank of America in Mitchellville, the June robbery of a Sun Trust Bank in Landover Hills and the July robbery of an Arlington, Va., Chevy Chase Bank. The last two were committed with an accomplice.
In each of the crimes, the robbers wore masks or bandannas and brandished guns, threatening to execute bank staff and patrons in the last case. On two occasions, the gunman was heard to say “Have a Merry Christmas,” as he left the bank.
On the day of the last robbery, July 13, 2001, Gilchrist and an accomplice also approached a man in Landover and demanded his vehicle — unaware that the man was actually an undercover Prince George’s County Police narcotics officer.
When Gilchrist ordered Officer Raymond Redden to the ground, threatening to “cap him,” according to court documents, the two men struggled over a gun. It fired once, but Redden held the slide portion of the gun, preventing it from firing again.
Gilchrist and his accomplice escaped in Redden’s unmarked car, eventually ditching it. Two hours later, witnesses put Gilchrist and another man at the scene of the Arlington bank robbery.
Gilchrist was caught July 19, 2001, and later indicted on four counts armed bank robbery, one count of carjacking, one count of conspiracy to engage in a bank robbery and a carjacking and six weapons charges. He was convicted in January 2003 on all but one of the bank robbery and weapons charges, and sentenced in April 2003.
On appeal, Gilchrist claimed that he was unfairly denied access to evidence that could have helped his case — the name of the man Redden identified as his accomplice. Police refused to name the person because their investigation was ongoing. But Gilchrist said Redden may have picked the wrong accomplice, evidence that could have been used to impeach the officer’s testimony.
The appellate court rejected the claim, saying the disputed evidence was not material to Gilchrist’s conviction. The judges noted that police presented eyewitness accounts, victim statements, fingerprint and DNA evidence linking Gilchrist to the crimes, so the excluded evidence would not have made a difference to the verdict.
The court also rejected Gilchrist’s claim that two in-court identifications of him by witnesses were unnecessarily suggestive and unreliable, as well as dismissing three other of his appeals as having no merit.
Attorneys for Gilchrist and the government did not return phone calls on the case Wednesday.
-30- CNS 01-12-05