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Brodnax man convicted of bank robbery

SoVaNow.com / June 03, 2010
A Mecklenburg County Circuit Court Jury on Thursday found Robert Earl Tippens Jr. of Brodnax guilty of robbing Wachovia Bank in Clarksville two days before Christmas in 2009.

Although he had been indicted on a charge of attempted capital murder, he was convicted of a lesser charge of unlawful attempted wounding of a law enforcement officer. He also was found guilty of felony eluding police.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Petra Haskins said Friday that Tippens entered the branch bank Dec. 23, 2009 and approached a teller, showing what the teller believed to be a firearm.

Haskins said that onlookers reported a man fleeing the bank and leaving the scene in a white pickup truck parked near the Ruritan Thrift Shop behind the bank.

She said three police cars pursued the pickup down U.S. 58.

A 12-mile chase reaching speeds of 110 mph ended at Union Level.

Haskins said the Commonwealth alleged that Tippens jammed on the brakes while traveling at 90 mph in a deliberate attempt to cause the pursuing police cars to crash.

All the officers’ reflexes were quick enough that they managed to keep their cars on the road, avoiding hitting other vehicles in the pursuit, she said.

According to police reports, Tippens turned on to Union Level Road, pulled into a driveway, and ran from the pickup truck he was driving. Officers pursued on foot and he was taken into custody.

The jury on Thursday deliberated 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict on the charges and another 45 minutes on sentencing. They recommended that Tippens serve 10 years for robbery, four for attempted unlawful wounding, and one for eluding.

Haskins said the Clarksville Police Department investigated the case, assisted by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Sate Police.

“They all did a top-notch job,” she said.

Circuit Court Judge Leslie Osborn presided at the trial. Attorney Greg Ullom represented Tippens. Haskins, assisted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ed Coleman, represented the Commonwealth.

Tippens is in Halifax Regional Jail awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 14.

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