Convicted bank robber testifies in tense exchange with prosecutor

 

DOVER — Convicted bank robber William Sells said little on the witness stand Monday morning, remaining defiant as he testified in the trial of alleged accomplice Russell M. Grimes.

Authorities believe Mr. Grimes drove a getaway car while assisting in an armed robbery at the First National Bank of Wyoming on Aug. 26, 2011.

Mr. Grimes is charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree conspiracy, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, five counts of second-degree reckless endangering, and possession of a firearm/ammunition by person prohibited.

Representing himself in court, Mr. Grimes maintains he was forced to drive the black Ford SUV that traveled approximately 16 miles through rural Kent County as police chased and eventually apprehended him when the vehicle crashed into a ditch in Camden-Wyoming.

His co-defendant Sells initially escaped, but was later arrested after a standoff with police at the Shamrock Motel in south Dover and eventually convicted.

Mr. Grimes chose to testify at 10 a.m. today in Kent County Superior Court. Closing arguments could possibly be made this afternoon.

Russell M. Grimes

Russell M. Grimes

The trial’s fourth day began with a tense exchange between Sells and Deputy Attorney General Susan Schmidhauser, followed by a methodical introduction of evidence gathered by police taking several hours.

Dressed in a white prison uniform with large black “DOC” letters on his back, Sells answered with “you know my name” as the standard swearing-in process began an approximately six-minute appearance in Kent County Superior Court.

Once Mr. Sells’ name was placed into the record by the court, he vowed that, “no, I don’t swear to tell the truth. I don’t even know why you brung me here.”

With that, Ms. Schmidhauser received permission from Judge Robert B. Young to question Mr. Sells as a hostile witness. A series of short answers and intermittent silences followed.

When asked about admitting to conspiracy in a plea agreement, Sells responded that, “you put in that [expletive] in bad faith. You know what you did.”

Judge Young warned the witness that he could be held in contempt; Sells remained silent as Ms. Schmidhauser showed a plea agreement to jurors.

Sells is contesting a guilty plea to conspiracy in his case.

“I was found not guilty of conspiracy. I don’t know what you was talking about,” he said.

He was convicted in June, following a mistrial in 2013 due to juror selection issues.

Judge Young found Sells in contempt and said the matter would be addressed at a later date. The witness spoke quietly and quickly to Mr. Grimes as he passed by the defendant’s table escorted by Delaware Department of Correction officers.

Police gather evidence

Mr. Grimes was shot once in the ankle by a pursuing Delaware State Police trooper after the SUV with a New Jersey license plate became disabled in the 500 block of Steele’s Ridge Road in Camden-Wyoming.

Upon apprehension, a trooper testified to locating an unknown amount of cash and gloves on a handcuffed Mr. Grimes, who was allegedly gripping a cellphone tightly.

Mr. Grimes objected to entering evidence, citing past credibility problems with the now-closed Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Another trooper testified to taking two photos of Mr. Grimes, moving quickly as a storm approached.

Four bags of Mr. Grimes’ clothing were taken at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital, a trooper testified, and gunshot residue was collected from his hands.

Also located, according to police, was $1,827 of red dye stained currency in the SUV, along with $1,386 in a Shore Stop parking lot in Canterbury. Shell casings were recovered at the Shore Stop, police testified.

While gunshot residue was confirmed to be found on Mr. Grimes hands, an analyst only indicated that a firearm had been discharged by someone.

Police said three vehicles were hit multiple times as a gunman fired from the SUV’s open sunroof during the pursuit.

A firearm discharged by a trooper was also collected in the incident’s aftermath, police said.

An investigating trooper testified that three firearms were located in the suspect’s vehicle. No blood was detected in the vehicle’s interior, according to law enforcement.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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