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Man Convicted of Murder in Bank Robbery That Left Three Dead

August 9, 1986

EASTON, Pa. (AP) _ A 28-year-old man was sentenced to death Saturday for murdering three bank employees in a June robbery that netted less than $2,300.

Martin D. Appel of Northampton had pleaded guilty July 22 to general homicide charges filed after he and another man walked into the First National Bank of Bath in East Allen Township and opened fire. Two people were also wounded in the attack.

On Saturday, Northampton County Judge Robert A. Freedberg fixed the offense at first-degree murder after two days of testimony that included the showing of Appel’s videotaped confession made three days after the holdup.

The judge could have found Appel guilty of first-, second- or third-degree murder, or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. First-degree murder carries either the death penalty or life in prison.

Freedberg passed sentence after hearing evidence for about 30 minutes and deliberating about 1 1/2 hours. Appel, in pleading guilty, had asked to die in the electric chair ″to atone for the deaths of the others.″

Police said Appel and Stanley Hertzog, 29, of Allentown walked into the small country bank and opened fire, killing three bank employees and seriously wounding a customer and the branch manager.

Appel told investigators he and Hertzog had planned for a month to rob the bank and leave no witnesses. No trial date has been set for Hertzog.

Appel, an Army veteran who was working as a cab driver at the time of the robbery, released a statement after Freedberg’s decision, which said: ″It is a shame how often man glorifies violence.″

Appel testified that he chose June 6 for the robbery because it was payday, when the bank would have more money than usual and because it was the 42nd anniversary of D-Day, ″the greatest invasion in military history.″

″I planned the whole thing out myself,″ Appel said. ″Stanley was just following my instructions.″

Appel has said he won’t testify against Hertzog.

The bank employees killed were Janice Confer, 48, Hazel Evans, 55, and Jane Hartman, 34.

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