A California man who robbed a Tacoma bank as part of a scheme to get his abducted daughter home can’t tell a jury why he did it, a judge ruled Thursday.
David Henry Curry, 53, held up the Key Bank branch near South 84th Street and Pacific Avenue on Jan. 5, about six months after he says his estranged wife kidnapped their daughter from the Sacramento area and moved to Indonesia, where her family lives.
Curry requested that he be allowed to bring up the kidnapping at trial. He also asked that the charges be dismissed, alleging his right to a speedy trial was violated.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy ruled against him on both motions.
The judge didn’t find that Curry’s speedy trial rights had been violated, and said the situation with the daughter wasn’t relevant to what the jury will consider.
Murphy’s order says Curry can’t bring up that his “wife left him and that his wife took his daughter to another country” or mention his “efforts to have his daughter returned to the United States.”
Murphy noted, however, that his order can be revisited after a mental health professional evaluates Curry to consider his mental state at the time of the robbery.
If his family troubles become relevant in light of that evaluation, the judge said he could reconsider.
An evaluation filed with the court in April said Curry didn’t then show symptoms of a psychiatric disorder.
Murphy has not yet decided whether Curry’s prior convictions for bank robbery in Connecticut can be part of the trial. He said the decision should be left to the judge who ends up presiding over the trial.
Curry told the judge he hadn’t been arrested in 23 years, except for the January bank robbery.
“Shouldn’t that count for something?” he asked.
Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Birgenheier disputed Curry’s account of his criminal history, and rattled off multiple times he had been taken into custody during that period, including on suspicion of driving under the influence and for having drug paraphernalia.
“Yeah, I smoked a little bit of pot,” Curry responded. “But I didn’t hurt anybody.”
Curry, who is representing himself, says he was distraught when his wife took their daughter to Indonesia without his knowledge in June 2016.
They had split custody at the time, according to a document Curry filed with the court in his robbery case.
He said he did everything he could to try to get her back, including robbing the bank to fund his efforts. At one point, his plan was to hire someone to get the girl and bring her back. He also talked about going to find her himself.
Either way, according to charging papers:
To get the money he drove up from Sacramento, got a BB gun and used it to rob the Tacoma bank, which he chose for its proximity to Interstate 5. He was arrested minutes after the robbery, after he got lost on his way back to the freeway.