Greenwich robber to be sentenced
GREENWICH — A robber who menaced the community and led police on a wild chase from Greenwich to California will find out Tuesday how many years he will spend in prison.
David Byers, 35, will go before Judge Michael Shea in the federal courthouse in Hartford and learn his fate. The penalty will be more rigid if government prosecutors have their way — the sentence they are proposing is in the range of 92 to 115 month, or 7.6 years to 9.5 years. A defense lawyer is asking for a five-year sentence.
Byers pleaded guilty to five separate robberies in the region last fall, three in Greenwich, two on Long Island. He used a television remote that he stuck into his waistband to simulate a gun in all but one of the robberies. He used a toy gun in the last robbery, according to court papers filed in the case.
Byers’s defense lawyer, Moira L. Buckley, cited that fact that he did not harm anyone during his robbery spree as one reason why a lesser, five-year sentence was warranted.
“There is no question that David’s conduct was dangerous and frightening, however, he did not harm anyone, he never intended to harm anyone, and he was not equipped with a weapon to use to harm anyone. He cooperated with authorities upon his arrest, giving several statements confessing his crimes,” Buckley wrote in her submission to the judge.
Byers has been a model prisoner while in custody at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, according to his lawyer, and he was a good candidate for rehabilitation. Byers had a bad drinking problem, according to the lawyer, and was working to overcome his previous behavior. “He has tried to improve himself and address his problems by attending Alcoholics Anonymous, completing the substance abuse curriculum, and attending religious services. He has taken art and math classes, and engaged other detainees in physical fitness training. He is a productive and goal-oriented person who has not let his status as a detainee facing many years incarcerated dissuade him from improving and rehabilitating himself,” Buckley wrote.
But the prosecution has been portraying a different kind of man — one who terrorized people again and again.
John Durham, the U.S Attorney, cited the mental trauma inflicted on the robbery victims, one of whom told federal investigators: “The bank robber changed our lives forever. Please put him in jail. There is no excuse for what he did.”
Durham concluded, “the impact on the victims is palpable.”
In his sentencing report, the federal prosecutor noted how many lives that Byers put at risk — both among law-enforcement personnel who chased him and his getaway car at high speeds in three separate states, and members of the public.
“And while it does not appear that the defendant actually possessed a firearm, Byers’ intent was to convey that he was armed and scare the victims into submission. Byers compounded that conduct by stealing multiple vehicles and engaging officers with the Greenwich Police Department, and troopers with the Pennsylvania and Arizona State Police, in high speed pursuits, placing the officers, other motorists, pedestrians, and Mr. Byers himself, at risk of serious injury or worse,” Durham wrote “All told, the conduct to which Byers has admitted, calls out for substantial punishment which, in the Government’s view.”
The prosecutor also cited earlier arrests — in Los Angeles for burglary and grand theft; and commercial burglary in San Diego County — as someone who has long demonstrated a capacity for crime.
Police were on Byers’ trail, obtaining a description of the vehicle he had been using. He was confronted by Greenwich officers on April 28, while having a Belgian-style beer at J House a block away from the Chase bank he had robbed twice. Byers took off in a Range Rover, then ditched that vehicle on I-95 and escaped on foot, prompting a massive search in eastern Greenwich. At a bar in Port Chester, N.Y., Byers stole a Range Rover by pretending to be a valet. He eluded police pursuers in Pennsylvania and Arizona before getting to San Diego, his home town.
The bank robber was eventually captured in San Diego on May 2 by an F.B.I. team.
Byers stole $14,753 in his robberies in Connecticut and New York.
According to the sentencing documents, Byers came east to re-start a relationship he had with a Greenwich woman.
Byers worked as a part-time model, gaining him a certain infamy when his photos were made public. Heavily tattooed and toned, projecting a bad-boy image, his photos appeared on several romance novels. But the Byers never made any money from the work, according to court papers, and often fell on hard times. Something of a drifter, Byers had been working as a clerk at Whole Foods and in construction on Long Island since he relocated from California. He was living out of his car at one point.
Byers had earlier jobs doing exterior work on cars and boats, before stepping up his criminal profile as a robber of banks and gas stations.
He pleaded guilty in November, in a plea deal and appeal for leniency. The judge will use an intricate set of guidelines to determine the sentence.