A man who assaulted San Antonio FCU last year in full commando gear with an arsenal of weapons and who held two tellers hostage during a nine-hour siege was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison.
The sentencing came after defense lawyers argued that 45-year-old Paul Wiseman broke into SACU last May in an attempt to force a confrontation with police, what they called "suicide by cop." Wiseman, said his defense lawyer, Angus McGinty, had just lost a multi-million-dollar medical malpractice suit over a work injury that left him in excruciating pain and caused his addiction to prescription painkillers.
Mumbling and barely coherent, Wiseman took the witness stand against his attorney's advice to describe his desperate suicide attempt. He told jurors he drove around the San Antonio neighborhood that morning searching for an opportunity to die before settling on the credit union. "I was looking for a place that I could be shot at," he testified. Despite living in so much pain that he wanted to die, he said could not bring himself to commit suicide. "Shooting yourself is a sin. If someone shot me for me, it would solve that problem then and there."
One of the tellers held hostage that day testified to Wiseman's death wish. "Maybe I'll meet God today," teller Brenda Niaves recalled Wiseman saying during the siege. "I told him his children didn't want to see him go out like that."
But the Bexar County jury rejected the "suicide by cop" defense and found Wiseman guilty on two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, as he fired several shots at police.
Wearing camouflage military fatigues and a bullet-proof vest, Wiseman arrived at the credit union just before opening carrying two long rifles and two handguns. After he broke in, the two employees, Nieves and her colleague Jennifer Villareal, hid in a utility closet where they used a cell phone to call police. Soon afterwards, Wiseman discovered them and held them hostage for most of the day, before surrendering to police. The tellers were unharmed.
Wiseman will be eligible for parole after serving half of the 15-year sentence.