A Marrero man who was convicted last month of robbing the same West Jefferson bank branch twice, about one year apart, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Brandon Gray, 40, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 22 of five counts of armed robbery, aggravated flight and two counts of aggravated assault. The five armed robbery counts represent the five bank employees he victimized during the two bank robberies.
With three of the victims sitting and the case detective Marc Macaluso seated in the front row of her courtroom, Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Gray on Wednesday (Oct. 19) to 50 years for each of the robbery victims, five years for the aggravated assault and six months for each of the aggravated flight charges.
The 50-year sentences are to be served without benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentence. Judge Taylor ran the sentences concurrently and told Gray that his “actions were malevolent in nature.”
One of the victims wrote a letter to the court as impact testimony, urging the judge to sentence Gray to the maximum punishment allowable. She noted “the tremendous impact” Gray’s crimes had on her and her coworkers, and that he had not been rehabilitated after serving prison time for a 1997 armed robbery, involving the carjacking of a 64-year-old Westwego man in front of his home.
The victim said she and coworkers twice had to endure Gray entering their workplace, leaving in his wake anxiety that employees continue to suffer despite knowing that he has been incarcerated. One employee no longer works in banks because of the robbery experience.
“Mr. Gray held a gun to my ribs and threatened to kill me,” the victim wrote.
Gray robbed the Iberia Bank branch on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero on Sept. 30, 2013 and got away with it until he returned to the bank a second time on Oct. 9, 2014, to rob it again, according to trial testimony.
As Gray entered the bank, using vulgar and threatening language and pointing a pistol at employees, a banker happened to be speaking on the phone with her husband, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office lieutenant. He immediately began broadcasting the robbery in progress over the police radio system, relaying to his fellow deputies details about the robber as soon as his wife relayed the details to him, according to testimony.
With that information, a deputy spotted Gray in his sports-utility vehicle stopped at a red light at a Marrero intersection. Noticing the deputy behind him, Gray became nervous and accelerated through the red light, leading deputies on a pursuit through Marrero, according to testimony.
Gray drove into the Lincolnshire subdivision, where he wrecked his SUV into a house on Constantine Street. He jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran around the rear of his SUV. The plastic grocery bag in which he carried the stolen cash snagged the rear bumper, ripping it open and spilling the bills on the lawn.
He then climbed over a side fence into the house’s back yard, where he turned and faced two deputies. He pointed a pistol at the deputies, one of whom opened fire, striking Gray once in his right leg, according to trial testimony.
Gray fled but was caught nearby. The two deputies are the victims in the aggravated flight and aggravated assault charges.
The weapon Gray used during the 2014 robbery was an air gun pellet pistol, leading his attorney to argue at trial that, among other things, he could not be convicted of armed robbery.
Judge Taylor noted Gray’s use of the pellet pistol. “No one should have to experience that,” Judge Taylor said, noting the victims’ testimony.
Gray, seated in a wheel chair because of the gunshot wound, said nothing during the sentencing hearing. His attorney’s requests for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal were denied.
Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Thomas Sanderson prosecuted the case.