DOVER — A 33-year-old Newark man pleaded guilty to a 2011 Felton bank robbery Monday morning and was immediately sentenced to 35 years in prison to address several charges and cases against him, his defense counsel said.
According to lawyer Andre Beauregard, William S. Sells III was facing the possibility of up to four life terms as a habitual offender before taking the plea.
“In speaking to Mr. Sells the human side came out in that some day he would like to spend time with his children,” Mr. Beauregard said after the matter was resolved in Kent County Superior Court before Judge Robert B. Young.
“He also demonstrated empathy for the victims of the crimes ...”
While Mr. Sells’ original conviction and 98-year sentence regarding a First National Bank of Wyoming robbery on Aug. 26, 2011 was later overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court, his attorney said he chose not to risk life in prison based on the current charges and cases against him.
Mr. Sells was also facing two first-degree robbery counts and other felony charges connected to an alleged Aug. 19, 2011 incident at a Royal Farms in Hartly, among other cases, his attorney said. That trial was scheduled for October.
“He realized the benefit of taking only a third of the sentence that was originally given to him,” Mr. Beauregard said.
Mr. Sells could serve less than 35 years with possible good time credit earned while incarcerated. Also, he was credited with time served since his initial Sept. 6, 2011 apprehension and incarceration at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna.
Mr. Beauregard said he was thankful that Kent County Chief Prosecutor Stephen Welch of the attorney general’s office got involved in the case that was resolved on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Welch released the following statement following the pleas:
“The (Department of Justice) is pleased that we were able to resolve these serious cases, all dating from 2011, with pleas of guilty to four felony charges and a total jail sentence of 35 years in prison.”
Mr. Sells pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, second-degree conspiracy, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the bank robbery case, along with a second-degree assault charge during an attempted
police apprehension later.
All other remaining charges were not prosecuted, Mr. Beauregard said.
The robbery plea brought a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence, while the firearm possession and second-degree assault charge came with five years each. Mr. Sells was given probation for the second-degree conspiracy count.