Three Face Death Penalty In Armored Truck Heist Gone Awry
DETROIT – Secretly recorded conversations at a prison could lead to a rare death sentence in Michigan as jury selection begins this week in the trial of a man charged with killing a security guard while he and several accomplices allegedly robbed an armored truck delivering cash to Dearborn FCU of $204,000 almost nine years ago.
Timothy O'Reilly is charged with fatally shooting Norman Stephens while the 30-year-old victim was delivering cash to the main office of the credit union, now known as DFCU Financial.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for O’Reilly because he showed a "complete lack of remorse" for Stephens' death and told others he would kill again, according to court records.
The FBI said it received a letter stating that O'Reilly was bragging about killing Stephens while in prison for a gun crime. An inmate agreed to secretly record him using a modified radio supplied by agents.
Two other suspects awaiting trial in the case could also draw the death penalty, while a third accomplice was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison with no chance of parole.
The group made off that December 2001 morning with $204,000 from the armored truck, which was replenishing cash at the credit union’s ATM. Five suspects in the case, all former members of an African-American Detroit gang known as the Blue Stone Motorcycle Club, also were involved in at least two other armed robberies, including the June 2003 hold up of an armored car delivering cash to Comerica Bank in which $170,000 was stolen, according to the FBI.
On the day of the credit union assault, the heavily armed suspects, wearing black clothing and hoods over their faces, stormed the Total Armored Services cash delivery truck in front of the credit union's branch at the Fairlane Town Center Mall around 4 a.m. While two armed guards were working to refill the ATMs in the parking lot and foyer, three hooded assailants, armed with shotguns, opened fire on the guards and the armored truck.
Police arrived at the scene to find two of the truck's guards had locked themselves in the steel encasement to keep the robbers out, while the third guard, Stephens, was dead on the ground outside the truck. Stephens had been carrying cash to the ATMs when he was shot three times by two of the suspects.
The investigation into the credit union heist had run into a dead end for more than three years, until August 2004 when the FBI received a letter from prison where O'Reilly was serving time for the Comerica robbery. An inmate at the Ryan Correctional Facility outside of Detroit told the FBI that O'Reilly had been bragging to other inmates about his role in the ATM heist at Dearborn FCU.
The source later provided information that O'Reilly and two others, all serving time for the Comerica hold up, were involved in the credit union heist. In the Comerica heist, on June 19, 2003, the group attacked a Guardian Armored Security Services armored truck and exchanged fire with one of the guards before making off with $170,000 in cash from the truck.
The FBI said the information provided by the source could only have been provided by people who were involved in the credit union heist. Among that information was that there were at least six robbers involved; that the robbers divided the $204,000 after the heist; and that the robbers shot Stephens and took his revolver.
O'Reilly also told the inmate that the robbers waited for the cash delivery in the credit union parking lot in a white U-Haul van, which was provided by Archie Bloom, who worked at U-Haul during the time. These facts were only known to law enforcement and were never disclosed to the public.