Bank Robber Gets What He Wanted

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC San Diego

    A 71-year-old bank-robbing suspect, who prefers being in prison to living on the outside, has been sentenced to a 21-year prison term.

    Peter Barry Lawrence was arrested within minutes back in July -- rolling down the street in his wheelchair -- after he allegedly robbed a Chase bank near the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue with a BB gun.

    Police said the bank was robbed at 10:31 a.m. and that Lawrence was arrested four minutes later.

    Officials said Lawrence has served time before in federal prison. The most recent crime is his third strike. However, the judge struck down his first strike, a bank robbery in 1997.

    "The defendant wanted to get caught," Judge Jeffrey Fraser told the courtroom. "He, quite frankly, has no problems spending the rest of his life in prison"

    The judge said the purpose of the third strike law is to protect the public, not to provide a retirement program for aging bank robbers.

    Investigators said that during the arrest, Lawrence did do some talking. He indicated to investigators during his statement that it was better for him to be in prison than out, police said.

    Lawrence, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and Diabetes, told the court due to his failing health his only option for survival was to rob a bank.

    "It is a sad reflection of our society when someone in you situation feels the need to go commit a crime in order to be institutionalized so that their basic needs, every day needs, are taken care of, the judge told the court.