Bank robber charged in Md. murder

Sunday, November 18, 2007
William Marcus White III, shown here in a bank surveillance video, was convicted of robbing a Cape Girardeau bank. Now he faces charges of murder and assault in Maryland. (Submitted photo)

Two months ago, a Cape Girardeau jury convicted William M. White III of the robbery of a local bank in August 2006, rejecting his claim that mental illness kept him from realizing the consequences of his actions.

Circuit Judge William L. Syler Jr. sentenced White, of Mechanicsville, Md., to the maximum, 30 years in prison.

That was just the beginning of White's legal troubles.

In the coming weeks, he will be extradited to St. Mary's County, Md., where he will stand trial for first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

After an investigation that spanned a year and a half, an investigative team in Maryland linked White to the murder of a 61-year-old hairdresser.

On June 26, 2006, police found Robert Phipps Sr., of Prince George's County, in the Hairtasia Hair Salon in Charlotte Hall, Md., dead of severe head wounds, according to a news release from St. Mary's County.

Wednesday, detectives from the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigations presented the results of their investigation to a grand jury and obtained an indictment for White on the murder and assault charges.

When White robbed the US Bank on William Street on Aug. 12, 2006, he handed the teller a deposit ticket with the words "I have a gun. No cops. I'll kill. Hundreds and fifties" written on it.

He fled the scene with $2,600, but a highway patrol officer caught up with him 20 minutes later in Sikeston, Mo.

At trial, a psychologist testified for the defense that trauma stemming from childhood abuse, coupled with a recent breakup with his fiance, caused him to slip into a "fugue state," or temporarily disconnect from reality.

According to the defense, the last thing White remembered was having lunch with his grandmother in Maryland. He had no recollection of driving across the country and allegedly robbing banks in Utah, California and Arizona, before coming to Cape Girardeau.

The state's psychologist accused White of "malingering," or faking the condition. The jury rejected White's claim, finding him guilty of first-degree robbery.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said charges against White are still pending for the bank robberies in other states, but none of those cases has yet gone to trial.

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