ERIE, Pa. — A 61-year-old woman was convicted of participating in a bizarre plot in which a pizza delivery driver was forced to rob a bank wearing a metal bomb collar that later exploded, killing him.
The jury deliberated about 12 hours Friday and yesterday before convicting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong of Erie on charges of armed bank robbery, conspiracy, and using a destructive device in a crime of violence for her role in the bank robbery that killed 46-year-old Brian Wells. She faces a mandatory life sentence.
The verdict was the final piece of the puzzle in a robbery plot so complicated it seemed to spring from the pages of a Hollywood script. Wells walked into a PNC bank on Aug. 28, 2003, with a metal collar bomb locked onto his neck. He walked out with $8,702 but was stopped nearby by police, who put him in handcuffs and waited for a bomb squad to arrive. Before it did, the bomb exploded, killing Wells.
Prosecutors later revealed that they believed the crime had been plotted by five people. Wells allegedly was in on it, at least at first, and probably realized only as he was forced to wear the bomb collar in the minutes before the heist that his life was in danger, they said. Diehl-Armstrong and three other men were also involved, prosecutors said. One had died of cancer. Another was killed by Diehl-Armstrong. The third pleaded guilty and testified against her.
Wells’s family believes he is an innocent victim who was not in on the heist. His brother, John Wells, on Friday called the case a “circus show trial’’ that would bring the family no justice.