Appeals court affirms sentence in bank robbery case

By Sarah Hawley -



POMEROY — The Fourth District Court of Appeals has affirmed the judgement in the bank robbery case against a Reedsville woman.

Amanda Sawyer pleaded guilty in December 2015 to the June 2015 robbery of the Tuppers Plains branch of Farmers Bank and was subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.

Sawyer appealed the judgement against her to the Fourth District Court contending that the court erred by imposing the maximum sentence for a third-degree felony and in imposing consecutive sentences when the requisite findings were not wholly supported by the record. She also contended that she had ineffective assistance of counsel due to her attorney failing to file an affidavit of indigency and a motion to waive court costs.

“Upon review we find no merit to Appellant’s (Sawyer’s) argument,” the decision authored by Judge Matthew McFarland.”We further find Appellant’s sentence is supported by the record and is not contrary to law. As such, the assignments of error are overruled and the judgement of the trial court is affirmed.”

Sawyer was indicted on Aug. 21, 2015 on four felony charges, robbery, a second-degree felony; robbery, a third-degree felony; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; and robbery, a second-degree felony. The charges relate to the June 2015 bank robbery, as well as the planned robbery of the TNT Pit Stop in Chester in July 2015.

Sawyer pleaded guilty to the first count of robbery and an amended count 4, which was amended from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony. Judge Dean Evans, who was assigned to the case, sentenced Sawyer to the maximum allowed of nine years during a February 2016 sentencing hearing. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,529 to the bank and to pay court costs.

On June 2, 2015, Sawyer entered the bank with a gun, later determined to be a toy gun, and demanded money. After taking money from a teller, Sawyer fled the scene.

It was not until July 27 that Sawyer was apprehended in connection with the case, after being stopped for not displaying a license plate.

When pulled over by Deputy Michael Hupp in the area of TNT Pit Stop in Chester, Sawyer had a knife and gloves in her car, as well as they license plate and bolts to attach it in the front seat. Taken to the police department and questioned, Sawyer admitted to the bank robbery and to planning to rob the gas station.

Sawyer’s appeal argument regarding the maximum sentence on the robbery charge related to the TNT Pit Stop planned robbery centered on the fact that the robbery did not take place. The prosecution argued at sentencing that Sawyer had taken the actions necessary to commit the robbery, including obtaining the gloves and the knife and removing the rear license plate and the front plate was bent up to help conceal her identity.

While the state and the victims in the case argued for the maximum sentence, Sawyer’s attorney, Public Defender Douglas Francis argued for a four year sentence, as well as five years of community control, with judicial release possible after six months.

Sawyer claimed that she committed the robbery as her husband was out of work, they were in danger of loosing their home and she needed to feed her children, a statement that is referenced in the appeals court decision.

“At the outset, we are not entirely unsympathetic to Appellant’s plight as a mother of two children facing financial hardship within the troubled economy and jobless rates of southeastern Ohio. And, we find it highly admirable that her record does not indicate prior drug or alcohol use or abuse, or a prior criminal record,” McFarland writes.

“However, the trial court stated that it considered the sentencing guidelines and apparently agreed with the State that her conduct constituted a serious form of the offense. We reject the argument that suggests that a mandatory sentence cannot be imposed for an attempt to commit a crime. By its very nature, an attempt to commit an offense means only that the offender did not accomplish the intended goal,” McFarland continued.

The traffic stop which ultimately prevented the gas station robbery occurred near the gas station, while Sawyer had the necessary items in her possession.

“She had the means by which to cause serious physical and emotional harm to employees and customers at the gas station and she intended to steal from the business. The unexpected traffic stop was the only intervening factor which stopped her from accomplishing her intended goal,” noted McFarland.

McFarland also notes that Sawyer “enjoyed a measure of success” from the bank robbery and apparently had spent the money stolen from the bank.

“While expressing remorse at sentencing, she apparently did not beforehand experience remorse to a degree that caused her to turn herself in to the authorities, return the money, or that prevented her from taking significant steps to commit another robbery,” wrote McFarland.

Judges Peter Abele and Marie Hoover concurred in judgement only with the decision and judgement authored by McFarland.

Sawyer is currently serving her sentence in the Ohio Reformatory for Women, with her sentence to expire on Jan. 7, 2025.


By Sarah Hawley

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews