Leniency case made for robber of Eureka Springs bank
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.