Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

‘Pizza bomber’ trial begins seven years after the event

A man is fitted with a bomb collar and forced to rob a bank before it goes off. Except that the police catch up with him after the heist. They call in the bomb squad, but they are too slow. The device detonates.

Seven years after the events of August 28, 2003 at the PNC bank in the city of Erie, jury selection began yesterday in the trial of the woman described by prosecutors as their instigator. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong (61), they allege, orchestrated the robbery because she needed cash for a hit-man to kill her estranged father.

Ms Diehl-Armstrong is accused of arranging for someone else to order pizzas, rig their victim with the bomb when he arrived with the food, and force him to rob the bank. She was then to stop the time bomb.

But things went badly awry. When the victim, Brian Wells, a 46-year-old pizza delivery man, entered the bank, he told the teller that his walking stick was a disguised gun and showed her the bomb around his neck. But instead of collecting $250,000 as planned, he fled the branch with just $8,702.

It was then that the police intercepted. He collapsed to his knees in a car park and shouted that he was not responsible for the robbery, but had been coerced. “I'm not lying,” he cried. “I'm not doing this.” Before the bomb experts could get there, the device went off. Mr Wells was killed instantly.

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