'Skeleton Bandit' Pleads Guilty To ATM Robberies
Posted June 14, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. — A man police nicknamed the "skeleton bandit," because he held up ATM customers wearing a skeleton mask, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning of robbery charges.
David Talton, 25, pleaded guilty to seven counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery for crimes that involved robbing customers at ATMs in February, as well as a bank in April.
Under a plea agreement with the state, Wake County Superior Court Judge Evelyn Hill sentenced Talton to between nine and 11 years in prison. He could have gotten more than 50 years in prison on the original charges, but the state made the deal and lowered the charges from armed robbery to common law robbery because police said Talton used an unloaded B.B. gun to commit the crimes.
"What you did was mean," Hill told Talton. "Because you made yourself more important than other people and you just can't do that in society."
She went on to tell him, that even with the length of his sentence, he could be a very valuable person in the community.
Defense attorney Logan Howell said Talton, who was trying to repay gambling debts when he committed the crimes, agreed to plead guilty to the charges so that he could get on with his sentence and then get back to his family.
"My impression has been that he is a nice gentle fellow who reacted desperately to a situation he couldn't control," Howell said.
Police said Talton approached people at five ATMs in Raleigh wearing a skeleton mask and demanded money. In doing this, they said he did not just scare the victims, but he terrorized the entire community.
"You stand before us in orange and white zebra stripes," Hill told Talton. "You don't look very scary now, but I'm sure you were scary when you were out there."
One of the robbery victims cried in court as she saw Talton for the first time without a mask.
"I won't go to an ATM and I'm afraid at night," said Melissa Lionetti, one of the victims from the ATM holdup. "That's impacted me, and it probably will for a very long time."
Last week, Talton pleaded guilty to five drug charges unrelated to the robberies. He was sentenced Thursday to 35 to 42 months in prison and fined $50,000.
Combined with last week's plea to drug charges and Tuesday's plea to robbery charges, Talton will spend at least 12 1/2 years behind bars.
"I have to be satisfied with the sentence in order for my own healing," Lionetti said. "I'm not going to be angry. I feel bad for his family."
Raleigh police eventually caught Talton when he robbed a bank in April. Investigators never found the skeleton mask in Talton's home, but did find pictures of the mask, including one with his daughter wearing it on Halloween.