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Judge grants delay in trial of suspect in Jackson bank heist

May 2, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

A judge on Wednesday granted a one-day delay in the bank robbery trial of an Australian man who claims he gave much of the money to the homeless.

The delay was requested by defendant Corey Donaldson, who is acting as his own attorney. Donaldson, 40, said heavy snow prevented him from being transported from Cheyenne after court Tuesday back to his regular jail cell in Scottsbluff, Neb., to retrieve his notes.

Donaldson, appearing in an orange jail uniform outside the presence of the jury, told U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson that he was unprepared to proceed with putting on his defense.

Prosecutors say Donaldson took more than $140,000 from the US Bank in Jackson on New Year's Eve by telling the branch manager that a Mexican cartel was set to destroy the bank building with explosives.

Donaldson has said he became homeless late last year and maintained he took the money to distribute to other homeless people. But the judge has ruled Donaldson cannot argue the robbery was justified.

On Wednesday, Donaldson told Johnson he had gotten no sleep at the Cheyenne jail. "I've been in the noisiest place in the jail they could put me," he said.

Johnson noted the jury and witnesses were ready to go forward. "You've had months to get prepared," the judge said.

But Donaldson protested that he would be at a disadvantage without his notes.

"If I had a photographic memory, it wouldn't be a problem," he said. "But I don't."

Johnson postponed the trial until Thursday morning.

Donaldson was living in Sandy, Utah, at the time of the robbery.

Law enforcement witnesses testified Tuesday that they arrested Donaldson after a friend tipped them off that he was in Utah. Police recovered more than $30,000 from Donaldson and from a room he had rented in an upscale hotel.

Donaldson has said he sought out homeless people and presented them with money. He said in his opening statement Tuesday that he decided to take money from banks after seeing the plight of so many homeless people who had suffered from bank foreclosures.

"I came up with the idea that since the banks had been bailed out, and the people had not, I was going to confiscate money from US Bank in Jackson and redistribute it to the poor and homeless in America," Donaldson said Tuesday. "And that's what I did."

The prosecution rested its case against him Tuesday afternoon. Johnson then denied Donaldson's request to acquit him on the grounds that the prosecution hadn't made its case.

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