Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 17, 2014

Robber who was homesick for prison to be sentenced

CHICAGO (AP) — Walter Unbehaun has spent nearly all of his adult life behind bars, so it's not surprising that he faces sentencing Thursday for yet another crime, a bank robbery last year. His reason for robbing the bank is surprising, though: He was homesick for prison.

The 74-year-old high-school dropout and part-time bathtub repairman probably isn't the first long-term convict to find he prefers being barked at by guards to life on the outside, which has its own demands. But living alone and feeling unhappy, Unbehaun decided to change his situation by committing a crime in order to get caught.

On Feb. 9 of last year, he entered a Chicago-area bank with a cane but no disguise, displayed a revolver in his waistband to a teller and told her softly over and over, "I don't want to hurt you." With $4,178 in loot, he then drove to a nearby motel and waited for police to arrive.

Confronted by authorities in the motel parking lot, the bald, portly Unbehaun dropped his cane, raised his hands and startled police by his apparent joy at getting nabbed, according to detailed court filings by both his attorney and the lead prosecutor in his case.

"Unbehaun stated he wanted to do something that would guarantee that he would spend the rest of his life in prison," an FBI affidavit said. "He knew robbing a bank with a loaded gun would accomplish that." One officer observed, "(He) was happy to be going home to prison."

The judge in Chicago who will sentence Unbehaun faces a dilemma, prosecutor Sharon Fairly pointed out in one filing: Sending Unbehaun to prison would be more of a reward than a punishment for him, but setting him free would risk him trying to commit another crime.

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