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Criminal Justice

Bank robber, 74, who wanted to go ‘home’ to prison gets his wish

Posted Apr 18, 2014 7:01 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A convicted 74-year-old bank robber who told police he wanted to go “home” to prison got his wish as a result of a judge’s sentence on Thursday.

Walter Unbehaun of Chicago was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, report the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press.

Unbehaun, who has had hip replacement surgery and uses a cane, was convicted of robbing a bank in suburban Niles in February 2013. A teller said he entered the bank and announced, “This is a holdup. I have nothing to lose,” according to the Tribune account. He also showed a gun tucked in his waistband, the teller said.

Unbehaun has a criminal record dating to 1963 for crimes ranging from transporting a stolen car to bank robbery to kidnapping. The Sun-Times describes him as a high-school dropout and part-time bathtub repairman.

Defense lawyer Richard McLeese had sought less than three years in prison because of his client's age, low intelligence and dementia, the Sun-Times says. McLeese said the case was “one of the saddest and most disturbing cases” he’d defended in more than 30 years practicing law, according to the Tribune and AP.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman agreed to Unbehaun’s request to recommend assignment to the Greenville penitentiary outside St. Louis. Unbehaun said the prison had nice medical services and good work opportunities that helped him pass the time.

Unbehaun told the judge he didn’t want to die in prison, however, and said a retirement home would be nice.

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