Gunman Spared Death Penalty In Guard Slaying During CU Heist

Register now

DETROIT – An outcast outlaw who shot a guard to death during a 2001 robbery at Dearborn FCU branch was sentenced to life in prison yesterday after a jury deliberating on the death penalty could not come up with the required unanimous verdict.

Earlier, the jury found 37-year-old Timothy O’Reilly guilty in the shooting death of Norman Stephens, a 30-year-old security guard for Total Armored Services during a robbery-gone-wrong at the credit union branch at the Fairlane Mall. O’Reilly and four accomplices overwhelmed Stephens and two other guards who were replenishing ATM cash that morning and made off with $204,000.

Dearborn FCU now is known as DFCU Financial.

In arguing for a death sentence during closing arguments Tuesday, federal prosecutor Kenneth Chadwell told jurors that O’Reilly was a cold-blooded killer who deserved no mercy. “Life imprisonment is simply not sufficient to atone for this. It simply is not enough,” Chadwell said. “Mr. O’Reilly had no mercy, and yet he asks you for mercy. Give him justice instead.”

Defense attorney Richard Kammen pleaded for mercy, arguing at closing that his client was not the killer, but that his co-defendant, Kevin Watson was, and that O’Reilly was merely the pawn of another co-defendant, Norman Duncan. He urged the jurors to spare his client’s life and instead give him life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The week-long death penalty phase of the trial included testimony from Stephens’ wife and his nine-year-old daughter whom he has never met. O’Reilly’s mother and his father pleaded against the death penalty.

Throughout the month-long trial the defense tried to portray O’Reilly as a wannabe gangster, the only white member of a seven-man crew, most of them members of a violent African-American motorcycle club, who planned and carried out the heist. O’Reilly, originally from Southern California, even wore his hair in braids as he tried to fit in, according to the defense lawyers. The shooting of Stephens was an effort to impress the other members how tough he was, including Duncan, who is scheduled for trial this fall.

The trial represented nine years of police work, culminating in O’Reilly’s taped confession to another inmate to shooting Stephens. Four other participants in the gang, which also hit an armored carrier at a Comerica Bank for $175,000, have been convicted in the case.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.