Suspected bank robbers in court in Henrico

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico bank teller, crying uncontrollably, recounts being robbed, with a machine gun pointed at her chest. She gave that testimony Wednesday in court as the two men suspected of robbing her bank faced a judge.

Testimony revealed one of the suspects blamed the sour economy for his actions. Both admitted to robbing not one but two banks in just a matter of weeks.

Larry Hooper and Deberoe Walls, Junior appeared in court for a preliminary hearing. During testimony a detective told the judge that Walls brought up the economy when asked about the October 27th bank robbery.

Our legal analyst says that's no excuse.

Two robbers waving a machine gun and handguns dressed in all black from head to toe, according to two Bank of America tellers. These surveillance photos are from an October 8th robbery at the Village Bank on Santa Rosa Road. It's less than a mile from the Bank of America on Patterson Avenue, which was robbed 19 days later. 

Right now, Hooper and Walls are only charged in the second crime, but according to a search warrant admit to carrying out the first one at Village Bank.

A detective testified Walls stated he was doing everything he could to stay afloat in this economy. That he worked for a living but owed child support and his house was in foreclosure.

"There is no excuse for robbing a bank except you have to understand the personal perspective from a single person's perspective he may feel he had no other choice," said NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin.

Benjamin said that kind of stress can cloud ones judgement but it doesn't make what happened to the bank employees, right.

"To arm yourself to prepare a getaway car, to figure out a disguise and to commit a series of these acts, no that's not impulsive that's planned criminal activity," said Benjamin.

One teller tearfully testified about how she begged for her life when one robber pointed a machine gun at her chest and threatened to kill her. Another teller told the judge that same man appeared to be in charge, calling all the shots and demanding thousands of dollars.

A detective testified Walls apologized and Hooper claimed he'd never done anything so stupid in his life.

Benjamin says everyone has a breaking point, but there's always another way out than turning to crime.

"If you need help then you need to ask for it," said Benjamin.

The two suspects remain in jail without bond. They'll return to court on March 14th. At that time a trial date will be set. Both suspects are facing eight charges each including robbery which carries a sentence of five years to life if convicted. 

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