Mary Elizabeth Stapleton, 44, was arrested on Monday for allegedly robbing two BankAtlantic branches in Deerfield Beach, Florida and another bank in Lighthouse Point, Florida. She is now facing three counts of strong arm robbery. Since strong arm robbery is a second degree felony, Stapleton is facing a total of 45 years in prison.
This case presents yet another instance of the “criminally stupid.” In the modern world of surveillance cameras, one has to wonder why someone would choose to rob a bank? Short of the airport, there is probably no other place on Earth that is more heavily guarded or equipped with surveillance cameras than a bank.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Stapleton was caught on camera in at least two robberies. Prior to her third robbery, managers at BankAtlantic circulated an image of Stapleton obtained from surveillance video during one of her other robberies.
When one Stapleton entered a BankAtlantic on Monday, one of the tellers recognized her from the picture and triggered a silent alarm. After the robbery, tellers observed Stapleton as she discarded a threatening letter used in the robbery and drive off in her Mitsubishi Mirage. The tellers then alerted police to the vehicle make, model, color, and license plate. Stapleton was later pulled over and arrested by a Broward Sheriff’s deputy.
When a criminal defense lawyer evaluates a case, one of the main things to consider is whether or not the State can identify the accused as the true offender. Being caught on video doesn’t help anyone but the prosecutors. The next thing to consider is whether or not the prosecutors have enough evidence to prove each and every allegation. Again, being caught on video doesn’t help anyone but the prosecutors.
Ultimately, Stapleton can only pray for two things. First, that the videos are of such poor quality that they have no evidentiary value whatsoever. Second, in the event that videos are of no value, the witnesses cannot identify her as the culprit. The likelihood that both of these facts coexist in her case is miniscule.
Therefore, Stapleton’s case will likely come down to a savvy plea negotiation with prosecutors or a miracle at trial. Either way, Stapleton’s foreseeable future is likely walled by concrete and metal bars.