Le­niency case made for rob­ber of Eureka Springs bank

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BILL BOW­DEN

The pub­lic de­fender for a man who robbed a Eureka Springs bank and fled in a taxi is ask­ing for le­niency in his sen­tence so he can par­tic­i­pate in a “shock in­car­cer­a­tion pro­gram.”

Hunter Cody Chafin of Ber­ryville suf­fered from ne­glect and abuse as a child, wrote James Pierce, an as­sis­tant fed­eral pub­lic de­fender, in a sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum filed Mon­day in U.S. District Court in Har­ri­son.

“Dur­ing her preg­nancy with Mr. Chafin, his mother used metham­phetamine,” Pierce wrote. “Mr. Chafin suf­fers from at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der, mood dis­or­der and dis­rup­tive be­hav­ior dis­or­der.”

Chafin also has a “mild cannabis and al­co­hol dis­or­der,” ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ment.

“Mr. Chafin be­gan drink­ing al­co­hol at age 15, and us­ing mar­i­juana at age 16,” Pierce wrote. “How­ever, his cy­cle of drug abuse be­gan be­fore he even had a choice — while he was in the womb.”

A fed­eral Bureau of Prisons psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion com­pleted Dec. 22 found that Chafin was com­pe­tent to stand trial, ac­cord­ing to the sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum.

Chafin pleaded guilty to a fed­eral bank rob­bery charge March 8.

Not­ing that Chafin has no pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal record, Pierce is ask­ing for a sen­tence be­low the fed­eral guide­lines of 30 to 37 months, al­though the mem­o­ran­dum didn’t state a spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tion.

Pierce also asked for Chafin to be placed in a Bureau of Prisons “shock in­car­cer­a­tion pro­gram.” Un­der 18 U.S. Code 4046, the shock in­car­cer­a­tion pro­gram is avail­able to peo­ple sen­tenced from 12 to 30 months.

Dur­ing the shock treat­ment pro­gram, which is not to ex­ceed six months, an in­mate is re­quired to “ad­here to a highly reg­i­mented

sched­ule that pro­vides the strict dis­ci­pline, phys­i­cal train­ing, hard la­bor, drill, and cer­e­mony char­ac­ter­is­tic of mil­i­tary ba­sic train­ing,” ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral statute. The in­mate is also re­quired to par­tic­i­pate in job train­ing and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams that in­clude drug and al­co­hol coun­sel­ing.

“In re­turn for the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the ‘intensive con­fine­ment’ por­tion of the pro­gram, the de­fen­dant is el­i­gi­ble to serve the re­main­der of his term of im­pris­on­ment in a grad­u­ated re­lease pro­gram com­prised of com­mu­nity cor­rec­tions cen­ter and home con­fine­ment phases,” Pierce wrote.

Chafin’s sen­tenc­ing is set for July 26 in fed­eral court in Fort Smith.

On Oct. 14, Chafin, then 19, went into First Na­tional Bank of North Arkansas, iden­ti­fied him­self and checked to see if his ac­count was open, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

He then went out­side and re­turned a few min­utes later, hand­ing the same teller a note that read, “$50s & $100s Only! No Trou­ble. I have a gun.”

“These acts re­veal the in­stant of­fense was a re­sult of his im­paired cog­ni­tive func­tion caused by early drug abuse while he was a fe­tus,” ac­cord­ing to his at­tor­ney’s the sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum.

The teller gave Chafin $3,350 and re­turned the note at his re­quest, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

Chafin then fled in a taxi, which had ar­rived out­side the bank. Chafin told the cab­driver his name and asked to be taken to a res­i­dence in Ben­tonville.

Un­aware that a rob­bery had taken place, the cab­driver drove Chafin 40 miles west to Ben­tonville and left him at a po­lice of­fi­cer’s house, ac­cord­ing to a prob­a­ble-cause af­fi­davit by Billy Cox, a spe­cial agent for the FBI.

When they ar­rived in Ben­tonville, Chafin paid the cab driver $150, then pur­chased a Honda mo­tor­cy­cle from the res­i­dent for $2,900.

“The seller’s fa­ther was a Ben­tonville po­lice of­fi­cer and had just ar­rived home from work in uni­form, driv­ing his marked pa­trol car,” ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

About three min­utes af­ter Chafin bought the bike, Ben­tonville po­lice Cpl. Steve Vera re­ceived a tele­phone call say­ing a taxi had just dropped a bank rob­bery sus­pect off at his house, said Gene Page, a spokesman for the po­lice de­part­ment.

Re­al­iz­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle was sold to the rob­bery sus­pect, Vera and an­other of­fi­cer left in search of Chafin and ar­rested him as he was trav­el­ing south on Walton Boule­vard. Chafin had got­ten about 4 miles from Vera’s res­i­dence be­fore be­ing ar­rested.

When po­lice ar­rested Chafin, he was un­armed, but in his pock­ets they found the rob­bery note, $200 and a band that was used to wrap a stack of bills with the no­ta­tion “$1,000” on it, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

When they ar­rived in Ben­tonville, Chafin paid the cab driver $150, then pur­chased a Honda mo­tor­cy­cle ... for $2,900.

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