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Diabetes defense denied CU robber convicted
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (6/25/09)--U.S. District Court jurors in Knoxville, Tenn., did not buy into Thomas Alexander Phelan’s “diabetes defense” and found him guilty of robbing Tennessee Members 1st CU, Oak Ridge Tenn., in December 2006. Phelan’s attorney argued that Phelan’s blood sugar--recorded as abnormally high after his arrest--resulted in him being in such a strange state of mind that he didn’t realize what he was doing when he showed up at the credit union with a realistic-looking air pistol, demanding cash (The Knoxville News Sentinel June 24). Authorities allegedly had to give Phelan 15 units of insulin to steady him just so they could take him to jail, Kim Tollison, assistant federal defender, told the jury. Because of this, Phelan obviously did not understand what he was doing, Tollison argued. However, Cynthia Davison, assistant U.S. attorney, refuted that argument, claiming Phelan’s decision afterwards to celebrate the heist by quaffing a Yoo-hoo chocolate drink is what sent his blood sugar level skyrocketing, the newspaper said. Phelan entered the credit union wearing with Harley Davidson gear, including leather boots decorated with flames. He called for a limousine to serve as his getaway vehicle, and paid for his Yoo-hoo with a wad of cash he stole from the credit union while an off-duty officer from the Knoxville Police Department watched, the paper said. Phelan will be sentenced Oct. 22.
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