A northern Indiana man’s conviction for attempted bank robbery stands after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the five-year statute of limitations to bring the charge began tolling under an exception involving DNA testing.
William Hagler and his brother Shawn stole a car and attempted to rob a bank in Woodburn, Ind., in 2000. They wore gloves and masks during the attempted robbery. When they discovered they couldn’t open the bank vault, they fled empty handed. Police later found the stolen car with some items the two wore during the robbery and tested them for DNA evidence. At the time, no definitive hits came up.
But when the Indiana State Police upgraded its DNA testing equipment in 2008, it retested the evidence, which led to a hit on Hagler. A print in the car matched Hagler as did a sample taken from a mask in the car. He and his brother were indicted in July 2010 and Hagler was convicted of attempted robbery. His brother's case is still pending.
In United States of America v. William Hagler, 11-2984, the judges focused on an exception outlined in 18 U.S.C. 3297 indicating in cases of DNA testing that implicates an identified person in the commission of a felony, the five-year statute of limitations begins when that testing is performed. Hagler argued that because DNA testing was done sometime in 2002, he had to be indicted by 2007; the government claimed that the clock didn’t start until the 2008 test that specifically identified Hagler. The judges agreed with the government’s argument.
The 7th Circuit found no excessive pretrial delay, as Hagler argued, and that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. The bank provided evidence through an FDIC insurance certificate and an employee’s testimony to show it was federally protected at the time of the attempted robbery. In addition, the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in not granting Hagler’s motion for a new trial based on his claim that DNA testing in 2011 showed inconclusive matches on clothing found in the getaway car.
But Hagler’s fingerprint was found inside the car and his DNA was found inside of it, Judge Michael Kanne wrote, which is powerful evidence against him.