DNA helps convict final ATM theft suspect

January 19, 2013

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A DNA sample from a glove left behind by a suspect helped lead to a third conviction in the theft of an ATM containing more than $40,000, according to District Attorney Rob Christian.

Benjamin James Patterson, who was 39 at the time of the incident (Dec. 2, 2010) at the First National Bank of Granbury branch on Highway 377 West, was convicted Wednesday by a jury in 355th Judicial District Court on a count of theft over $20,000/under $100,000.

The jury sentenced Patterson to the maximum punishment, 99 years in prison. The offense was enhanced because Patterson had five previous felony convictions and was classified as a habitual criminal offender, Christian explained.

“Patterson had previously been to the penitentiary three separate times for five other felony convictions including aggravated assault of a peace officer with a firearm,” Christian stated.

Previously, Anthony George Hannon, who was 43 at the time of the theft, was convicted for his part in the crime and sentenced to 90 years in prison. Hannon was considered a habitual felon because he had been in prison twice previously. The third man found to be involved, Cory Miguel Finley, who was 38, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 16-year prison term.

The three defendants in the case, all from Fort Worth, wore masks when they used a stolen El Camino to crash through a plate-glass window at the bank at night.

They managed to load the ATM into the back of the El Camino, but were spotted leaving the parking lot of the bank by a Hood County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy, Christian noted, adding that the ATM alone was valued at more than $15,000.

A second deputy who was quickly notified tried to pull over the El Camino, but the suspects failed to stop. The vehicle turned south on James Road, then east on Acton Highway. The driver attempted to turn into a neighborhood on Royal Lane but lost control of the vehicle and went into an open field before hitting a fence near a residence. The ATM fell out and was recovered, along with all of the money.

A deputy saw the three men get out of the vehicle and jump over a fence, Christian said.

“Hood County deputies and Granbury Police Officers worked together to quickly capture two of the three individuals,” Christian stated. Patterson was the one who eluded officers, but later jailed in Tarrant County on an unrelated charge. He was later transferred to Hood County Jail.

Later that morning, a person who lives on Frank Lane reported that her 1992 GMC pickup had been stolen. The pickup was found in Lake Como on the west side of Fort Worth. A few days later, another resident of Frank Lane reported that someone had broken into a vehicle there as well, but it would not start because the battery was dead. However, investigators found blood on the damaged steering column of that vehicle, Christian said.

DNA obtained from a black glove found at the scene where the El Camino crashed helped Granbury Police Investigator Richie Haught connect Patterson with the ATM theft after it was sent to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office in Fort Worth for testing, according to Christian. Swabs of the blood from the steering wheel were submitted to the DPS Crime Safety Lab in Waco.

“Eventually through the investigation, DNA evidence connected both the glove and the blood from the steering column to Benjamin James Patterson who lived within blocks of where the stolen truck was abandoned in Lake Como,” Christian said. “Phone records also connected Patterson to one of the other subjects.”

[email protected] | 817-573-7066, ext. 254

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