Bank robbery suspect pleads not guilty
The 57-year-old Chico man accused of being armed while robbing the Bank of America and the Subway restaurant in Corning, and attempting to rob the Chevron Station at Rolling Hills Casino, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.
Gary Dean Belcher is scheduled to appear in Tehama County Superior Court on Tuesday for pretrial conference and then again on Oct. 10 for a preliminary hearing.
The defendent is facing two felony counts of second degree robbery and one felony count on attempted second degree robbery, each with a special allegation of personally using a firearm while committing a robbery.
Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen said he has been in touch with the US Attorney's Office discussing the cases' potential for federal prosecution.
"Until I hear further from them, we will continue to prosecute this case locally," he said.
Belcher reportedly told Corning police investigators while being transported from Butte County Jail to Tehama County Jail that he robbed the Bank of America on Sept. 10, Corning police Chief Don Atkins said.
Atkins said Belcher, who was arrested by Chico police on Sept. 13, also confessed to robbing the Subway shop in Corning on July 25, and to robbing the Chevron station at Rolling Hills Casino on Aug. 23.
Additionally, Belcher is said to have confessed to robbing the US Bank in Colusa on Aug. 31.
Atkins said Belcher repeated the information during interviews at the Tehama County Jail the night he was arrested.
Belcher was arrested about 4 p.m., with Emily Clark, 36, of Willows. She is being charged in Butte County on suspicion of armed robbery of a Dollar Store on Sept. 4.
The couple were suspected of being the same two people who entered a Chico bank wearing disguises about 2:30 p.m.
A bank employee familiar with the Colusa robbery, told the bank manager and when he confronted the couple, they fled, police said.
Belcher and Clark were spotted by a Chico police officer in a tan Chevrolet Tahoe, still wearing disguises that matched those of the couple in the bank, stopped at a Walgreen's store at East and Cohasset streets.
A similar vehicle was used during the Corning bank robbery, police said.
Belcher was arrested with a loaded handgun in his possession, and was later identified by detectives as the suspect in the Corning bank robbery, Chico police reported.
Belcher reportedly walked into the Corning bank around 2:15 p.m. on Sept. 10, approached a teller, displayed a handgun and ordered her to put money into a white plastic bag, police said.
That scenario was very similar to the Colusa robbery, in which a man approached a teller, displayed a semi-automatic handgun, then demanded money be put into a bag he provided.
In each case, the robber escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.
The robber at the Subway shop also had a gun and escaped with what was reported to be a little more than $200, Corning police said.