By DON AINES
6:17 PM EDT, March 15, 2011
Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley last week found David Courtney Zeller criminally responsible for robbing the same bank twice last year, according to court documents.
Zeller, 58, formerly a resident of the Dagmar Hotel, had pleaded guilty on Nov. 22 to two counts of robbing the Sovereign Bank at 100 W. Washington St., Hagerstown, on March 9 and March 23, 2010.
At the time of his plea, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said the prosecution was seeking a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Zeller returned to court in February for a hearing to determine if he was criminally responsible for the robberies. During the hearing he testified that he heard voices in his head and planned to get money from the bank.
Following the first robbery, in which he stole $1,480, he testified he became paranoid, believing two men living in the Dagmar had him under surveillance.
"I decided I needed more money to get out of town," so he robbed the bank again, Zeller testified in February.
Hagerstown police caught Zeller as he left the bank on March 23. He had $66,000 in his possession, the charging documents said.
Zeller testified he had been paroled from prison a month before the first robbery, was unable to contact the person handling his inheritance and needed money to pay his rent.
At that hearing a forensic social worker with the state Office of the Public Defender testified Zeller was a diagnosed schizophrenic who took medications for that disorder.
Had Zeller been found not criminally responsible for the robberies, he would have been turned over to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene instead of the state Division of Correction, Assistant Public Defender Carl F. Creeden said last month.
Beachley ordered a presentence investigation before Zeller is sentenced.
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