An Australian man who is acting as his own attorney at his bank robbery trial in Wyoming says he gave the money to the homeless.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — An Australian man on trial on a charge of robbing a U.S. bank on New Year's Eve told jurors in an emotional opening statement that he was justified because he gave much of the money to the homeless.
Corey Donaldson, 39, is acting as his own attorney in federal court.
"I must say, I feel like a frightened child," he said Tuesday.
Donaldson is accused of robbing a Wyoming bank of $140,000 by claiming explosives were planted around the building.
Donaldson said he was the second of 11 children and grew up in the country outside Melbourne, only to see his father lose his home to bank foreclosure. He said he's now a legal resident in the United States.
Donaldson said he became homeless late last year, coming face-to-face with people who were on the streets because of bank foreclosures.
"I came up with the idea that since the banks had been bailed out, and the people had not, I was going to confiscate money from US Bank in Jackson and redistribute it to the poor and homeless in America," Donaldson said. "And that's what I did."
The U.S. District judge ruled last week that Donaldson can't argue to the jury that he was justified in robbing the bank.
Jared Thomas Williams, branch manager of the bank, testified that Donaldson met with him in his office on the day of the robbery. He said Donaldson told him members of a Mexican cartel were outside the building and were prepared to blow it up if Williams didn't turn over $2 million in cash.
"There were four military-grade explosives that had been buried in the snow, and they were prepared to detonate them," Williams said Donaldson told him. Williams said he loaded $140,000, nearly all the cash in the bank, into a duffel bag and gave it to Donaldson.
Donaldson later asked Williams, "If you knew there were foreclosed people on the streets who feel that way every day, how would you feel about it?"
Prosecutor Todd Shugart objected, and Johnson ruled that Williams shouldn't answer.
Investigators began looking for Donaldson after piecing together information from surveillance cameras in and around the bank. Authorities arrested him when his longtime friend Kevin Lee Day called police after Donaldson turned up at his home in late January.
Day choked up as he testified that he's been close friends with Donaldson for 16 years. Day said Donaldson told him where to find $8,000 after the robbery.
Day said he became emotional when he received the money, and that it came at a good time.
Investigators testified Tuesday that they recovered about $30,000 after Donaldson's arrest. Donaldson told an FBI agent shortly after his arrest that he had intended to surrender.
Shugart rested the prosecution's case late Tuesday.
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