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Local bank robber gets 14-year sentence: Lawyer: Kelley, 43, tried to 'commit suicide by cop' by shooting at Texas-side officer as he exited the patrol car

Local bank robber gets 14-year sentence: Lawyer: Kelley, 43, tried to 'commit suicide by cop' by shooting at Texas-side officer as he exited the patrol car

December 12th, 2017 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

A Texarkana man who shot at police after robbing a local bank in April was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison Monday afternoon.

Dixon Kelley III, 43, appeared before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III for sentencing with Texarkana lawyer Craig Henry in a third-floor courtroom of Texarkana's downtown federal building. Dixon pleaded guilty in August to armed bank robbery and to carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The convictions make up Dixon's entire criminal history.

Henry said Kelley was moved to commit the robbery because of crippling financial problems and that when cornered by police, Kelley attempted to "commit suicide by cop," by firing a shot as Texarkana, Texas, Officer Jeremy Courtney was getting out of his patrol car.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross said Courtney, who is designated by his department as a sharpshooter, exercised "exemplary restraint" when he did not return Kelley's fire. Ross said that Courtney realized Kelley's gun had jammed when he saw him attempt to fire a second round.

"And as he was running away, he reached his hand behind his back, as if he might have had a second weapon," Ross said. "It's a miracle Mr. Kelley stands here today."

Ross praised the Texarkana, Texas, officers who arrived moments after Courtney for determining that deadly force was unnecessary as well.

Henry requested that Kelley receive a sentence below what federal guidelines recommend, asking Schroeder to consider Kelley's complete lack of criminal history and the strong support he has from family and friends. Ross countered that while Kelley hasn't shown a long pattern of criminal conduct, the court should not overlook the seriousness of the armed bank robbery and Kelley's attempt to shoot police officers.

"I sort of second what Mr. Ross said. It is a sad day. It's a sad day for you, for your family members here in court," Schroeder said. "I have never had anyone appear before me for sentencing on such a serious crime with no criminal history."

Schroeder said he would not deviate from a sentence within the range recommended under federal sentencing guidelines.

"This is a serious crime. A violent crime. You wore gloves and a mask, and you carried a dangerous gun. You pointed a firearm at a teller," Schroeder said. "You fired at police and attempted to fire again but it malfunctioned."

Shroeder sentenced Dixon to 177 months in federal prison. Federal law requires a minimum 10-year term if a firearm is discharged during a crime of violence and mandates that the sentence run consecutively to the sentence on the underlying offense. Dixon was sentenced to 57 months for armed bank robbery and 120 months for carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. The terms will run consecutively.

Schroeder encouraged Kelley to take advantage of educational and training programs while in prison. Upon his release, Kelley will be supervised by federal probation officials for five years.

Kelley was wearing a black mask, a black hoodie, black gloves and black pants when he entered the Bank of the Ozarks branch on Richmond Road in Texarkana, Texas, at 9:05 a.m. April 5, according to court records. Kelley pointed an orange Lorcin 9 mm semi-automatic pistol at tellers who handed over $5,246.

Kelley sped away from the bank in his black Dodge Charger but was quickly spotted by Texarkana, Texas, police. An ensuing car chase ended when Kelley got the Charger stuck in mud at the dead end of County Road 2301 in Bowie County near the Red River. Instead of immediately surrendering, Kelley took aim and fired, striking and disabling Courtney's patrol car.

"I attempted to fire another shot at the officer, but my firearm jammed. I then attempted to fix the firearm's malfunction but was unable to do so," states a factual basis filed in Kelley's case in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

When Kelley was unable to fix the gun, he began running through a field where he was taken into custody.

All the money stolen from the bank was recovered by police and Kelley must forfeit the pistol he carried. Kelley will receive credit for the time he has spent in federal custody since his arrest and could accrue good time credit toward his sentence at the rate of 54 days per year. There is no parole from federal prison.
llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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