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Published:December 12th, 2010 13:14 EST

Terminally Ill Wheelchair-Bound Bank Robber, 71, Sentenced To 21 Years In Prison

By Robert Paul Reyes

"A 71-year-old terminally ill man, who was armed with a replica BB gun when he rolled his wheelchair into a downtown San Diego bank near his home to commit a robbery, was sentenced Friday to 21 years in state prison.


Peter Barry Lawrence pleaded guilty in August to robbing the Chase bank branch on Broadway of just over $2,000 on July 26.
Lawrence -- who has federal convictions for robbing a Hillcrest bank in 1997 and trying to rob a bank in City Heights in 1999 -- told Judge Jeffrey Fraser that he decided to rob banks because he knew their insurance would allow them to get their money back."

Lawrence makes a pathetic figure in his wheelchair, but I`m glad that the jury didn`t let misguided sympathy cloud their judgment. They sentenced the serial bank robber to 21 years in state prison, but Lawrence who has Parkinson`s disease and inoperable colon cancer probably won`t live for more than a few months at the most. Having a terminal disease is no justification for breaking the law, Lawrence go his just desserts.

The elderly criminal said he decided to rob banks because he knew that the banks` insurance would compensate them for their losses. In other words he is claiming that nobody got hurt, but he seems to be forgetting the bank employees and customers who were traumatized by his robberies.

I think Lawrence robbed the bank, because he wanted to be sentenced to prison where he will receive free medical care, food and lodging. Not to mention cable TV, that he couldn`t afford as a free man.

At least Lawrence will soon be dead, and he won`t be too much of a drain on society.

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