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Witness Says Gunman in Fatal Robbery Ordered Her into Room Full of Victims

May 18, 1985

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) _ A survivor of a bank robbery that left four people dead testified Friday she was ordered to lie down in a back room full of other victims by a gunman threatening to kill her 14-month old daughter.

Bellen Robles said she and her husband followed the orders of the two men who were robbing the bank but were shot anyway. She was the last witness called in the trial of Robert Grady Johnson, 22, and Jay Wesley Neill, 19, before it was recessed for the weekend.

The two are charged with four counts of first-degree murder and three of shooting with intent to kill in the Dec. 14 robbery of a small branch bank in Geronimo, a small farming town about 10 miles south of here.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the two in the jury trial in Comanche County District Court.

Dr. Richard Boatsman, a medical examiner, testified Friday that the three women employees killed were nearly decapitated with a knife, and were stabbed 75 times altogether. The fourth victim - a man - was shot twice in the head, Boatsman said. Three others were wounded.

Mrs. Robles said she heard moans when she entered the bank to pick up a check.

″I started walking toward the bathroom but didn’t make it all the way. I saw the women lying down and a man on top of one and he looked like he was hitting her ... he was sort of squatting down on top of her,″ she said.

Mrs. Robles said she returned to her car and told her husband, Ruben, she thought the bank was being robbed. She said he did not believe her. The couple and their daughter went back in.

Eddie Zeller, who died in the bank, walked in behind them, she said, and while they waited for someone to wait on them, ″the guy came out and said if we didn’t want to die we’d go to the back and lay down.″

″I was the last one to go in ... there wasn’t much room for me to lie down so I kind of squatted and held the baby. He told me ‘Lady, do you want your baby to die?’ I said no. So I lay down,″ she said.

Although she followed his instructions, ″we got shot,″ Mrs. Robles said.

Mrs. Robles, her husband and Marilyn Roach were wounded in a volley of gunfire in the small room. Zeller was shot to death. The Robles’ daughter was not injured, even though a man stood over the baby and tried to fire his empty gun at her, prosecutors said.

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