Accused bank robber, boyfriend in court
BRATTLEBORO — Angel Baker, a 17-year-old from Rockingham, was caught on camera for an alleged bank robbery, and even though a number of people identified her when her picture was posted on social media, it was her mother who convinced her to turn herself in to police.
According to documents filed with Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, Baker went into Citizens Bank on Putney Road at 4 p.m. on Thursday and handed a teller a note that read "This is a robbery. I have a gun. Give me $5,000." During the robbery, Baker kept her left hand in her pocket, and the teller told police she genuinely thought Baker had a gun. The teller gave her more than $2,500.
After she took the money, Baker left on foot toward the Hannaford grocery store.
Shortly after the robbery, the Brattleboro Police Department obtained security footage and posted stills to its Facebook page and its Twitter feed. In the pictures, a young woman stood in line, waiting her turn. She didn't try to hide her face or hair and wore a tie-dyed sweatshirt, the same one she was wearing when she turned herself in to the Brattleboro Police Department later that same day.
According to the affidavit, Baker and her boyfriend, Jack Burke, 18, of Rockingham, turned themselves into police after Baker's mother called her and urged her to look at Facebook, where the police had posted her picture. Baker's mother told police when she called her daughter, she urged her to go to the police and return the money.
According to the affidavit, Citizens Bank in Brattleboro wasn't the first choice of Baker and Burke. The pair had been talking about robbing a bank for a couple of days, Baker told police. She said Burke came home one day and said he wanted to quit his job and that they should rob a bank. Drugs were not mentioned as a motivating factor in the crime.
On Thursday, they first went to Chester, taking with them a hat, gloves, a mask and a BB gun with the intent of Burke committing the robbery. Burke later told police he wasn't planning on bringing the gun in. Instead of robbing a bank in Chester, the pair got scared and decided to drive to Brattleboro and meet with a family member at her house. But after leaving the house, the pair went looking for a bank to rob in Brattleboro, settling on Citizens Bank on Putney Road.
Burke got scared, so Baker decided she would commit the crime instead. Even though Burke offered her the hat, mask, and gloves, she turned them down. Baker told police she knew it was stupid to enter the bank without hiding her face and that "she knew it was stupid but it was in the moment, she would pay for it later."
After Baker made off with the money, she and Burke drove to Keene, N.H., where they stopped at a convenience store and a "vape shop." It was while they were returning to Vermont that Baker got the phone call from her mom. Before turning themselves into police, Baker called the department and confessed to the robbery. According to the affidavit, upon arrival, both Baker and Burke confessed to robbing the bank.
During the court hearing on Friday, Burke was charged with three counts of aiding in the commission of a felony. His bail was reduced to $500, under the condition he receive mental health care at the Brattelboro Retreat and later lives with his parents in Keene pending his court proceedings.
Before Baker's arraignment, her public defender, Mimi Brill, asked Windham Superior Court Judge Michael Kainen to remove the media from the court room, contending Baker was a juvenile with a mental health issue. Kainen declined Brill's request, but did allow Baker to waive her appearance in court, meaning she didn't have to be in the court room during the proceeding.
"It's either a mental health issue or some strange values we are instilling in our kids," said Kainen, before lowering Baker's bail to $500 on the condition she, too, gets mental health treatment. Once she receives treatment, Baker must live with her mother.
Kainen gave the pair credit for being cooperative with the police, noting that Baker is being charged as an adult because she threatened the teller with a weapon. She has been charged with assault and robbery with a weapon, grand larceny and larceny from a person.
"It's unfairly hanging by a thread that this is an adult charge and not juvenile," said Kainen, adding if Baker had been 18, her $10,000 bail would have been continued.
The Brattleboro Police Department was assisted by the Vermont State Police and the Keene, N.H., Police Department.
Harmony Birch can be reached at email@example.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.
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