U.S. News

Admitted bank robber has sentence cut for his testimony

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - An admitted bank robber was given a reduced prison sentence for testifying against the convicted ringleader of the heist that resulted in the death of a pizza delivery man with a bomb locked around his neck, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Kenneth Barnes, 57, saw his sentence halved to 22 and a half years by a judge at a closed hearing on Monday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which requested the reduction.

Barnes had been sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2008 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank robbery and other charges related to the heist in Erie, Pennsylvania, on August 28, 2003.

A pizza delivery man, Brian Wells, 46, carried out the robbery and died in front of police and news cameras when the time bomb attached to his neck exploded. Prosecutors later said he was involved in the plot that entailed following instructions on a series of notes.

Barnes testified against the accused ringleader, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, who was convicted and sentenced in February to life plus 30 years in prison.

She is slated to serve her sentence after completing a separate sentence of seven to 20 years for fatally shooting her live-in boyfriend in 2003. However, she has been diagnosed with cancer, and doctors last year predicted she had five to seven years to live.

Diehl-Armstrong, who was acquitted in the shooting death of an earlier boyfriend in 1984, has maintained her innocence in the bank robbery case.

Barnes’ attorney declined to comment.

Reporting by Daniel Lovering, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst