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Friday, January 20th, 2017

Witness says debt from drugs led to heist

By Jared Mauch
CELINA - Obtaining money for a drug debt was the motive for the Sept. 23 robbery of the Second National Bank branch in Celina, according to testimony from one of the men charged in the incident.
Five people testified in Mercer County Common Pleas Court over five hours on Thursday about the incident. The prosecution rested its case at about 3:45 p.m. Thursday. Defense attorney Richard Delzeith then moved to acquit Casey Atkins, 38, Fort Wayne, Indiana, saying the prosecution had not proven its case. Judge Jeffrey Ingraham rejected the motion and ordered Delzeith and prosecutor Matt Fox to submit written closing arguments by Jan. 27.
Ingraham's decision ended the trial a day early for Atkins, who faces a third-degree felony charge of robbery and a fifth-degree felony charge of theft in connection with the robbery of the Second National Bank branch at 800 N. Main St.
Joshuia Bursey, 32, Pierceton, Indiana, testified that the approximately $6,000 taken from the bank was needed to repay a drug debt to Atkins. Bursey identified himself as the person on the bank recording taken during the robbery.
Timothy Rios, 22, and Bursey, who are both charged in connection with the robbery, testified Thursday.
Rios said he and Bursey stopped at the Sunoco gas station at the intersection of Ash and Market streets before the robbery to get bags for Bursey to put the money in.
Bursey said he rolled up the bags and stuffed them into his shirt sleeves before entering the bank, announcing a robbery and demanding cash.
Kathryn Howard testified that she and another female followed the men to Celina in separate vehicles. They were dropped off at about noon at the Celina Burger King while the men used her vehicle, she said.
Atkins returned to the restaurant at about 1 p.m., she said.
Rios said that he and Bursey were in the other vehicle and decided to return to Fort Wayne after the robbery.
Both men claimed it was Atkins' idea to rob a bank.
Bursey testified that he was the one who had robbed it. Delzeith asked both men if Atkins was in the getaway vehicle or in the bank at the time of the robbery. Both replied that Atkins was not in either location. Bursey said Atkins had suggested that he rob a bank as a way to repay a drug debt.
Rios said the original plan was for Atkins, Bursey, Rios and two females to travel to Detroit and possibly rob a bank there. The plans changed on Sept. 22 to robbing a nearby bank, and the three men spent hours driving through Indiana and Ohio looking for a bank to rob, he said.
Delzeith asked Bursey the reason why the plans had changed and the witness replied that he feared getting caught in Detroit for a Sept. 19 Fort Wayne bank robbery he had committed.
Rios said he had originally told investigators a different version of events as a way to protect Atkins.
"I was trying to protect a friend," he said.
Fox asked if Atkins had turned out to be a friend, and Rios replied "No."
Steve Schulte of Second National Bank was also called to verify the amount of money taken.
The last person Fox called to the stand was Celina Police Detective Ronald Waltmire, who explained how the investigation was conducted and how Atkins, Bursey and Rios were tracked.
Atkins was arrested on Oct. 28 in the Fort Wayne area after a warrant was obtained by Celina police. He was taken to the Mercer County jail, where he is still listed as an inmate this morning.
Atkins was the second person arrested. Bursey had been arrested Sept. 30 after a traffic stop in Fort Wayne. Rios was arrested on Nov. 8 by Indiana law enforcement on a warrant from Celina police. He was listed as an inmate in the Mercer County jail this morning, and a pretrial hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 25.
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