In 2008, Larry Whitfield attempted to rob a credit union. In the aftermath of the attempted bank robbery, Mr. Whitfield hid from the police in the home of seventy-nine-year-old Mary Parnell. After entering her home, Mr. Whitfield assured Ms. Parnell that he did not intend to harm her and asked her to move with him several feet from the hallway into the home’s computer room so that the police wouldn’t see him. Ms. Parnell suffered a fatal heart attack shortly thereafter. The federal bank robbery statute, in 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), provides that a bank robber who “forces another person to accompany him” will receive between ten years and life in prison. Among other crimes related to the attempted bank robbery, Mr. Whitfield was found guilty of one count of “forced accompaniment” and sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. In Whitfield v. United States, the Supreme Court will answer whether the statute requires proof of more than a de minimis movement of the victim. Will the Court be skeptical of another possibly overzealous federal prosecution as it was in both Bond v. United States and Yates v. United States, or will the severity of Mr. Whitfield’s crimes help convince the Justices of the validity of the government’s position? Our expert will attend the oral arguments and offer his impressions to a Teleforum audience.
- John G. Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation