WAILUKU - A man charged with robbing a Lahaina bank last week admitted he committed the crime and said he needed the money for rent, a police detective testified Thursday.
Turner Terry, 22, also said he had initially planned to rob a convenience store, "but he felt it wasn't safe," Lahaina police Detective Garret Tihada said.
After advising Terry of his rights, Tihada said he questioned the suspect Monday afternoon in an interrogation room at the Lahaina Police Station.
Lahaina bank robbery suspect Turner Terry talks with Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro during his preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon in Wailuku District Court. Judge Kelsey Kawano found there was probable cause to support charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree theft against Terry.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
Terry was arrested after his probation officer recognized him in surveillance photos of the Territorial Savings Bank robbery, Tihada testified during a preliminary hearing for Terry in Wailuku District Court. After the Sept. 12 robbery, police had released photos of the suspect to news media and posted photos on the Maui Police Department Facebook page.
Judge Kelsey Kawano ruled that there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree theft against Terry. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Maui Community Correctional Center.
Sharon Barbers, who was one of three tellers working at the bank branch on Papalaua Street the morning of the robbery, testified she saw Terry first enter the bank at about 10:30 a.m.
He was in the bank for less than a minute before leaving, she testified, then returned 15 to 20 minutes later. "That's when he gave me the note," she said.
The handwritten note on a ripped piece of paper said, "I have a gun. Empty the can," Barbers said. She said the note referred to a can holding cash.
"I gave him my cash and then he ran," she said.
Terry left with more than $4,500, she said.
No customers were in the bank, Barbers said. Both times he entered the bank, Terry was wearing sunglasses, she said.
"He didn't say a word," Barbers said.
In court, she pointed out Terry as the robber.
Cross-examined by Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro, Barbers said she hadn't seen Terry before the day of the robbery.
"Are you sure this is the same person?" Deputy Prosecutor Lewis Littlepage asked.
"That's correct," Barbers replied.
After Terry's probation officer saw the surveillance photos and contacted police, a $50,000 bench warrant for violating his probation was served on Terry, and he was arrested at his residence on Front Street, Tihada said.
Police records show that arrest occurred Saturday afternoon.
When Terry opened the door to his residence, officers saw a plastic bag containing green leafy vegetation resembling marijuana, Tihada said. Police obtained a search warrant for the residence and recovered suspected marijuana as well as suspected crystal methamphetamine, a smoking pipe, rolling papers and lighters. During the search for drugs, Tihada said police also found a dark-colored shirt, black-and-purple shorts and shoes with a yellow stripe matching the description of clothing worn by the bank robber.
When Terry was questioned by police, he said he went to Territorial Savings because it was a smaller bank with less traffic, Tihada testified.
"He said it took some time for him to build up his nerve," Tihada said. "But he finally went in."
Tihada said Terry described handing the teller the note and the teller handing him money. Terry said he "grabbed it, put it in his backpack and he left," Tihada said.
Terry is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in 2nd Circuit Court.
According to court records, Terry was on probation in two 2012 cases for convictions of second-degree theft, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, second-degree forgery, fraudulent use of a credit card and three counts of third-degree theft. He also has an abuse conviction.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.