Charlotte Man Convicted by Federal Jury on Crimes Related to September 2008 Gastonia Bank Robbery Attempt
Jury Also Finds Gastonia Womans Death Resulted From Forced Confinement During Escape
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 20, 2009|
CHARLOTTE, NC—On Friday, November 20, 2009, a federal jury in the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division, convicted Larry Whitfield, 21, of Charlotte, of crimes in connection with the attempted robbery of the Fort Financial Credit Union on New Hope Road in Gastonia, in September 2008. Whitfield was found guilty on four criminal counts:
- Attempted bank robbery, and aiding and abetting same;
- conspiracy to use and carry firearms and to intentionally possess firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence;
- use and carrying of firearms and possession of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting same; and
- in attempting to avoid apprehension for the attempted bank robbery, having forced a woman to accompany him without her consent, resulting in her death.
The jury found Defendant Larry Whitfield not guilty of killing the Gastonia woman during the escape. Today’s announcement of the guilty verdict is made by U.S. Attorney Edward R. Ryan of the Western District of North Carolina. Joining Ryan in making today’s announcement are Chief Tim Adams of the Gastonia Police Department; Chief Bill Farley of the Gaston County Police Department, and Owen D. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Operations in North Carolina.
A federal indictment charging two defendants, Larry Whitfield and Quanterrious McCoy, in connection with the attempted bank robbery in Gastonia was filed in January 2009 in U.S. District Court. Quanterrious McCoy, charged with 1) Attempted bank robbery and aiding and abetting; 2) conspiracy to use and carry firearms and to intentionally possess firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; and 3) use and carrying of firearms and possession of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, previously entered a plea of guilty to Counts One and Three, and is currently in federal custody awaiting sentencing. Larry Whitfield, charged as outlined in paragraph one, above, was tried before the Honorable Robert J. Conrad, Jr., Chief, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina and a federal jury in Charlotte beginning on Monday, November 16, 2009.
The charges represent the results of a local investigation which stemmed from an attempt by Defendants Whitfield and McCoy to rob the Fort Financial Credit Union on New Hope Road in Gastonia on September 26, 2008. Pursuant to the investigation and according to evidence presented during the trial, Defendants Whitfield and McCoy drove to the credit union and, armed with a .357 magnum revolver and an assault rifle, attempted to enter it. The evidence presented at trial showed that, once they were unable to enter the credit union, Defendants Whitfield and McCoy fled northbound on Interstate 85 to the Belmont area. Once in Belmont, the Defendants Whitfield and McCoy continued to flee on foot. Defendant McCoy was arrested hiding under a van. According to the evidence at trial, Defendant Whitfield broke into a woman’s home, changed clothes, and when she came home from work, at approximately 3:03 p.m., he confronted her with a knife at the door and said “come in and shut up.”
Further, according to trial evidence and testimony, after that homeowner fled and called 911, Whitfield proceeded to a second home, where he began calling a friend to come pick him up. According to the evidence at trial, as he was placing those calls, the owner of the second home, a 79-year-old woman, encountered him. According to the evidence presented at trial, as Whitfield was on the phone, the victim needed to be calmed down, and shortly thereafter Whitfield told his friend that the victim appeared not to be breathing, was unconscious, and that she had had a heart attack. According to the testimony, Whitfield was advised to call 911, but he did not. Medical experts testified that, although the victim had high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, they believed that the victim’s heart failure was triggered by stress from the Defendant’s entry and presence in her home. U.S. Attorney Ryan, along with his Assistants, Adam Morris and Thomas O’Malley, who prosecuted the case at trial, highly commend the officers of the Gaston County Police Department and Gastonia Police Department for their swift and professional conduct of the initial investigation, which led to the arrests of both Defendants Whitfield and McCoy as they were intent upon escaping the scene of the bank robbery attempt. The U.S. Attorney also commended Special Agent Peter Carricato of the FBI for his role in the investigation and successful prosecution.
Following Friday’s conviction, Chief U.S. District Judge Conrad announced that sentencing of Defendant Whitfield would take place on a later date. Whitfield has been in federal custody pretrial, and will remain in federal custody pending sentencing. Whitfield currently faces imprisonment of life imprisonment as to the jury’s verdict on Count Four, alone. McCoy, who pleaded guilty to Counts One and Three currently faces not less than five years’ and up to life imprisonment.