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In United States v. Eligwe, a Fourth Circuit panel consisting of Judge Wilkinson, Judge Shedd, and Judge Agee affirmed the convictions and sentences of three individuals for various offenses related to bank robbery. Of the thirteen issues raised on appeal, the panel opinion addresses only one, finding the other twelve to be without merit. The issue reviewed was whether one of the appellants had unambiguously invoked his right to counsel, so as to require cessation of questioning. To resolve this issue, the court went to the videotape. Judge Shedd wrote for a unanimous panel:

We find that Eligwe did not make an unambiguous request for an attorney. When read out of context, Eligwe’s isolated statements could perhaps be read as such a request. However,  after reviewing the video-taped interview, we conclude that no reasonable officer in light of the circumstances would have  understood those statements to be an unequivocal request for a  lawyer. Eligwe spoke quickly and with a heavy accent, and when  Mason attempted to ask Eligwe clarifying questions, Eligwe spoke over Mason and continued talking about the case. Furthermore, even if Eligwe had invoked his right to counsel, the district court did not err in introducing the custodial statements because Eligwe made the statements at issue after he reinitiated communication with Mason.

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Here’s an interesting tidbit from a Times-Dispatch story about a bank robber who was accidently released from the Richmond City Jail and promptly returned to rob the same SunTrust bank branch that he had robbed immediately prior to his jailing:

In his ramblings, Emile apologized profusely to witnesses, including the teller he robbed April 30 at the SunTrust branch in the 1800 block of West Broad Street. But he said he had meant her no harm and cast himself as a fool who committed a crime against a corporate entity and not against an individual. Prosecutor Elizabeth A. Hobbs argued that the robbery was a violent crime that terrified the teller.

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