Even if his age and infirmity might seem to invite leniency, that “is arguably offset by his lengthy and violent criminal history,” Fairly said.
The Chicago-born Unbehaun first went to prison at 23 for transporting a stolen car. His criminal record includes more than half a dozen convictions for crimes from home invasion to — ironically — escaping from prison.
Media accounts from 1970 describe how Unbehaun kidnapped a 19-year-old girl and left her bound to an Ohio motel bed as fled the state in her car. For that, he was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 25 years. His most recent decade-long prison term, for bank robbery, ended in 2011.
Unbehaun pleaded guilty in September to the 2013 bank robbery in the Chicago suburb of Niles and faces a maximum 30-year prison term. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of about seven years.
In his pre-sentencing filing, defense attorney Richard McLeese called on the judge to show Unbehaun mercy.
“An individual driven to commit bank robbery so that he can return to prison is, we submit, less culpable than someone who acts simply out of greed,” he said. A three-year sentence would be appropriate, he argued
In a brief letter filed to the judge last week, Unbehaun didn’t withdraw his wish to go to prison. But he did write, “I wasn’t thinking straight.”
Unbehaun’s third wife died while he was behind bars for the previous bank robbery. But it’s not as if no one extended the childless widower a helping hand. Following his 2011 release, his sister and her husband bought Unbehaun a trailer home in Rock Hill, S.C., the couple said Wednesday.
Bored and alone, Unbehaun spent his days watching television or drawing, and in a court filing, he compared his life at the trailer park to living in a prison isolation “hole.”