Man Tried for Bank Robbery: From Robbery to Theft


by Maryjo Nuñez

A Yolo County man currently faces charges of second degree robbery of a bank this past April. On April 4, 2018, Dwight Clayton Belton allegedly entered the Woodland Wells Fargo, demanding money from the teller he approached. Mr. Belton’s defense attorney asks that Mr. Belton face charges of theft instead.

Mr. Belton is currently charged with robbery in violation of California Penal Code section 211 which indicates that in the act of robbery, one must have used force or fear, taken property which did not belong to them with an intent not to return the goods, and that the goods were taken unwillingly from the victim.

The trial of Mr. Belton resumed today in Department 13 in the presence of Judge Paul K. Richardson, with the People and the defense delivering their closing statements. In their statements, both the People and the defense readdressed the evidence. However, the defense presented the possibility, by using the very evidence which allegedly proved Belton’s culpability, that perhaps Mr. Belton did not actually perpetrate the robbery, or that if the jury does find Mr. Belton guilty, they should consider his charges under theft in lieu of robbery.

According to video stills from the bank’s closed circuit TV footage, Mr. Belton appeared to have worn a black beanie, sunglasses, and a yellow construction jacket—materials which the police used to identity him when searching his car and which were also used as evidence throughout the trial.

Moreover, upon investigation at Wells Fargo, police discovered Mr. Belton had left his wallet at the scene. Using the I.D. found within this wallet, the police tracked down the defendant.

Yet, in reminding the jury of statements from the teller, a “Ms. C,” the defense claimed that the yellow jacket police found was different from the one seen in the CCTV video stills and according to Ms. C’s testimony.

According to the defense, Ms. C claimed that the yellow jacket possessed pockets, as she described Mr. Belton putting his hands in and out of the pockets.

Furthermore, image stills from the CCTV footage captured the jacket as having a singular black stripe along the collar, yet the jacket presented as evidence did not exhibit any black stripe—nor did it appear to have pockets, which led the defense to suggest that the police may have erred in their search of the car or that Mr. Belton is not the perpetrator in question.

In addition, the defense continued to expound upon the idea of police error in that a police officer demanded DNA testing be carried out on the wallet—to prove Mr. Belton a match. However, the results for such a test never materialized, thus leading Belton’s defense attorney to speculate that the evidence provided did not prove his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Lastly, the defense implored that the jury—if they find Belton guilty—consider the charge as theft as opposed to robbery. To be considered a robbery, one’s actions must have included the use of fear and/or force; however, in contrast to that, the defense attorney reminded the jury how Ms. C declared Mr. Belton’s hands appeared to be shaking. The defense posited that Mr. Belton’s shaking hands represented an absence of the use of fear and/or force, eliminating the fear/force element of the crime, and therefore “demoting” the crime from robbery to theft.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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