Monday, January 15, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco man who stole to pay bills convicted of robbing bank

Raymond Barnes robbed a San Antonio Citizens Federal Credit Union at 10:47 a.m. on Aug. 30, 2011. He didn't wear a mask, and he used his hand to mimic a gun in his shirt. He netted more than $7,000 and sped away. He was caught at 6 p.m. that same day.

It took a jury even less time to convict Barnes, 33, of the crime.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Assistant State Attorney Phil Matthey said, "but what the law doesn't allow us to do is to commit crimes to pay our bills."

Matthey gave his final arguments in Barnes' trial for second-degree robbery on Tuesday, and was referencing Barnes' taped confession to police. In an interview played for the jurors, Barnes said times were hard and he needed the money to pay for overdue expenses.

In fact, after the robbery, that's exactly what he did. He paid his phone, rent and cable bills and put $500 on a debit card for his girlfriend, according to his lawyer, Geoff Cox. Authorities recovered about $3,000.

"No matter how much sympathy you may have felt and no matter how sorry for him you felt," Matthey said, "you cannot base your verdict on feeling sorry for anybody."

Cox spent most of his closing argument stressing the importance of reasonable doubt, and the state's requirement to overcome a presumption of innocence.

Five women and one man returned a guilty verdict 20 minutes later.

The San Antonio robbery was not Barnes' first legal tussle.

He was found guilty of obtaining property for a worthless check in 2004. A year later, he was found guilty of armed robbery, for which he served a prison sentence from 2004 to 2009.

Per Florida law, because Barnes is a reoffender, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison, plus a possible additional 15 years for being habitually violent.

He will be sentenced in November and is in the custody of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office until then.

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