OLYMPIA - An attorney for a man charged with robbing an Olympia bank last year says his client is innocent, wrongly accused by a man already convicted of the crime.
Brian Wilson, 29, was convicted earlier this year of robbing the Timberland Bank at 423 Washington St. on Oct. 17, 2008, and taking more than $3,000 from a frightened teller, court papers state.
But Wilson said he committed the crime at the urging of Scott Pyle, 47, after Pyle helped him plan it. Wilson said the two had met as inmates at the Nisqually Jail, court papers state. Wilson said he gave Pyle the stolen money after the robbery.
Now Pyle faces a jury trial for first-degree robbery for acting as Wilson’s accomplice. Pyle’s jury trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 7 in Thurston County Superior Court.
Olympia attorney Richard Woodrow said that Wilson falsely accused Pyle to secure a plea deal that gave Wilson a light sentence for robbing the bank.
Woodrow said Wilson is lying about Pyle’s involvement in the bank robbery. As part of Wilson’s plea deal for second-degree robbery, Wilson received a prison sentence of just 15 months, in exchange for his promise to testify truthfully at Pyle’s trial.
Without the plea deal, Wilson would have been exposed to a prison sentence of up to eight or nine years, Woodrow said.
“When you’re a criminal, you learn that if you can give somebody up, you can get a better deal,” Woodrow said.
Besides Wilson’s word, there is no solid evidence tying Pyle to the bank robbery, Woodrow said. According to court papers, Olympia police learned that Pyle was staying at the Olympia Inn in downtown Olympia near where the robbery occurred on Oct. 20, 2008 – just three days after the bank robbery.
After Olympia police took Pyle into custody in February in connection with last year’s robbery at Timberland, “Pyle denied coaching and encouraging Wilson to commit the robbery,” court papers state.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau could not be reached Wednesday to comment on the case.
Pyle is accused in court papers of convincing Wilson to rob the Timberland Bank at 423 Washington St. The two had met in the Nisqually Jail, court papers state, and, “(a)ccording to Wilson, Pyle helped him change his appearance, and admonished him (Wilson) to ensure that he received no tracking devices or ‘dye packs’ from the teller he would take money from.”
“After leaving the bank, Wilson said he gave the money to Pyle and walked to the Olympia Transit Center,” court papers state. “Pyle was supposed to meet him later, but he never did. Wilson allowed as to how he was ‘used’ by Pyle.”
Woodrow said that besides Wilson’s word, at trial prosecutors plan to present a witness who said he saw someone who appeared to be about 26 years old riding a bike in the area of the Timberland Bank when the robbery occurred. Woodrow said the prosecution would have the jury believe that the person on the bike was Pyle - who at 47, could not be mistaken for a 26-year-old.
Pyle has a prior bank robbery conviction stemming from a Nov. 12, 2002 robbery at the Sterling Savings Bank in Olympia, court papers state. During the incident, Pyle was accused of telling another man “how to do the robberies,” court papers state. The other man who was convicted in the 2002 robbery, Jerry Upson, told police that Pyle drove him from Shelton to Olympia, planned the robbery, picked Upson up after the robbery, and “the two split the money from the robbery,” court papers state.
In July 2003, Pyle was sentenced to a 65-month prison sentence for the bank robbery.
Woodrow said that he will call witnesses at trial who were fellow inmates of Wilson after Wilson’s arrest for the Timberland Bank robbery, and they will testify that Wilson told them that he lied to police about Pyle’s involvement in the robbery.
Other witnesses from the Nisqually Jail will testify that when they were there with Pyle and Wilson in 2008, before the Timberland robbery, the two were not friends, Woodrow said. Woodrow said the witnesses also will testify that while at the jail, Wilson may have learned from Pyle about Pyle’s bank robbery conviction in 2003.
A jury instruction will be presented during Pyle’s trial ordering that jurors cannot find Pyle guilty based alone upon accomplice testimony unless “you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of its truth,” Woodrow said.
According to court papers:
After the Timberland Bank robbery, Wilson admitted to police that he entered the bank and demanded money. During the robbery, a heavyset white male in his late 20s entered the bank wearing dark clothing and a beanie cap. He walked up to the teller and demanded that she give him all her $20, $50 and $100 bills, and warned her “to not do anything stupid.”
The suspect left the bank with more than $3,000.
During the Olympia Police Department’s investigation, a witness said he had seen someone strip off some clothing items and hide them behind a trash dumpster. There, police found a blue jacket, a pair of eyeglasses, two black wool gloves, a black baseball cap and a dark beanie cap. In the pocket of the coat, there were 10 $100 bills wrapped in a paper ring sleeve of a type commonly used by banks, as well as two loose $100 bills.
OPD distributed a flier showing surveillance footage of the robbery suspect, and a corrections officer from the Nisqually Jail called to say he believed the suspect was Brian Wilson, who had been released from the jail on Oct. 13.
In exchange for Wilson’s guilty plea to the Timberland Bank robbery on May 22, and his promise to testify truthfully in Pyle’s case, Bruneau recommended that Wilson receive a 15-month prison sentence, which was handed down in court on Aug. 20 by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor, court papers state.