Woman gets 10 years for armed robberies
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Lincoln County woman who robbed a Putnam County nursing home and a Hamlin area bank at gunpoint will spend the next 10 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston told Morgan Marie Mullins, 27, of Hamlin, it was difficult to render her sentence. He took a 10-minute recess during the proceedings Thursday at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse before handing down a sentence of 10 years imprisonment and three years supervised release.
"While I believe you are troubled and you have issues you need to work out, you are not a lost cause," Johnston told Mullins from the bench.
But Johnston pointed out that she had committed two armed robberies.
"Even when no violence occurs, the potential for violence is there," Johnston said. "It's terrifying for the victims.
"You did it not only once, but twice."
Mullins pleaded guilty in August to armed bank robbery, carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and interfering with commerce by threats of violence.
She was arrested in May, days after robbing the City National Bank in West Hamlin on May 22. She also robbed the Teays Valley Center nursing home in Putnam County on May 2.
Mullins, who worked at the nursing home, entered the building about 1 a.m. through an unlocked window in the shower area. She finished her shift at 11 p.m. but returned wearing a black hoodie, gray scrub pants and a clown mask.
She told authorities she took the clip out of the 9-millimeter handgun before entering the nursing home, but once inside approached two nurses and pointed the weapon at them. Ordering one to the ground, she demanded the other give her drugs and the logbook.
Mullins fled with the goods and dumped the logbook and clown mask in the Ohio River.
Weeks later she was at it again, this time at a bank her family had used for years.
Wearing a knit ski cap, dark jeans and a light-colored sweatshirt over a black hoodie, she entered City National Bank just before 1 p.m. May 22. She ordered the bank employees and customers to the ground while waving a black pistol.
She then pointed the handgun at a teller and demanded money. She got away with $3,003.
A witness recognized a truck sitting in front of the bank at the time of the robbery. Another witness told authorities she recognized the robber's voice but couldn't place it until Mullins' name was brought up.
Those two events traumatized two women.
Cindy Roush, one of Mullins' former co-workers at the Teays Valley Center, told the court she didn't hate Mullins but her actions hurt "more than anything."
"I don't feel safe," Roush said, her voice breaking. "I go to work and think about it. I just feel scared all of the time."
Becky Hill, who manages the bank, said Mullins' actions changed her life.
"I like her," Hill said. "I don't hate her for what she did. But it's changed my life - not for a day or a month, but a complete change.
"I was never afraid of work, but now I am. I was never afraid of my home, but now I am."
Mullins apologized for her actions. A slight woman, she stood wearing a prison orange jumpsuit and spoke softly.
"I am sorry," she said to her victims, who sat together on the right side of the courtroom. "It's not the person that I am. I was under the influence of something I shouldn't have been under.
"I'm not going to make excuses."
Mullins has a documented drug addiction. She told the court she had been addicted to oxycodone for the last three and half years. She tested positive for oxycodone and morphine before her federal arraignment in May.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the robberies were shocking.
"This case shows in very stark terms the devastating effects of the prescription drug epidemic," Goodwin said. "The defendant's crimes were shocking, and now she has 10 years to think about the effects of those crimes.
"As the court noted, the significance of this sentencing should also serve as a deterrent. The right path is not toward crime but toward treatment."
Mullins requested to be placed at a prison close to home. Johnston said that would likely be Alderson Federal Prison Camp, a women's minimum-security prison in Monroe and Summers counties.
She also has been ordered to pay restitution to the bank and the nursing home.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.