POMEROY — On a day originally scheduled for her jury trial, Amanda Sawyer, the woman accused of robbing a Farmers Bank in Tuppers Plains in June of this year, changed her plea to guilty in court Thursday morning. The hearing was heard by Judge Dean Evans, of Gallia County.
Sawyer, 32, of Reedsville, was arrested on July 27 when she turned her vehicle onto State Route 7 in front of Deputy Michael Hupp, according to Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney Colleen Williams. Hupp made a traffic stop because Sawyer’s vehicle was missing the back license plate and because she was going only 20 miles per hour on the highway.
While talking to Sawyer, Hupp found a homemade face cover, disposable gloves and a butcher’s knife inside the vehicle. Seeing these items, he placed Sawyer under arrest and took her to the sheriff’s office, where she allegedly admitted to robbing the Tuppers Plains bank. She also allegedly eventually told deputies she was planning a robbery of the TNT Pit Stop in Chester, but upon seeing the officer’s vehicle behind her kept driving.
During the June 2 robbery, a woman can be seen on surveillance video wearing a nylon stocking over her head and sunglasses. After taking $6,529, the robber fled on foot through the front door, ran to the side of the building opposite the ATM and through the grass behind the bank, and got into a vehicle parked by a baseball field lot and drove off.
A court indicted Sawyer on four charges on Aug. 21, with three felony counts of robbery and one felony count of kidnapping. According to Colleen Williams during Thursday’s hearing, along with pantyhose and a wig on her head and sunglasses, Sawyer also brought with her to Farmers Bank a silver gun with an orange tip, which employees said they did not immediately realize was a toy gun due to the threatening gestures Sawyer made with the weapon. She also possessed a Dollar General bag that was filled by the tellers with the $6,529 in cash.
Because Sawyer made a change of plea and pleaded guilty, the state recommended that counts 2 and 3 be dismissed and count four be amended from a second degree felony to a third degree felony. Count one remained unchanged. Williams said that with a maximum of eight years for count one and a maximum of three years for count two, Sawyer could potentially spend 11 years in prison, although the state recommended nine years. Sawyer will also be ordered to pay restitution in the range of $6,000-$7,000.
Currently, Sawyer is out on probation with an ankle monitoring unit. She told the judge she’s currently working part time in a factory that puts together heaters. Williams said any employment that Sawyer has must be approved by the probation department. Her representative Thursday was Athens lawyer David Baer.
A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted by the probation department before a sentencing hearing, which hasn’t been officially scheduled yet.
“We want to adequately represent all the victims involved and our hearts go out to the women and men of the Farmers Bank, just for the situation that they had to be in, and we hope that this will help bring some closure to them and that they’ll feel they were adequately represented in court,” Williams said. “We also feel that deputies are so vigilant in keeping an eye out for the community, both deputies, (Adam) Smith and Hupp worked well together to make sure that justice was served.”
Smith, who also teaches a criminal justice course at Meigs High School, brought his students to Sawyer’s hearing, saying that he wanted to be there since it was his case and wanted to show his students. Smith also served as a sergeant for 20 years with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, and still helps out with meth labs.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555 or on Twitter @JournalistKriz.