TIFTON -- A 40-year-old Sumner man convicted by a jury in July of the December armed robbery of South Georgia Banking Company on Second Street was sentenced Friday to serve a term of life in prison for the crime.

Eugene Marlin's court-appointed attorney contended at the sentencing hearing in the Law Enforcement Center's courtroom that her client never had a gun during the commission of the crime.

"I have honestly believed from the beginning that he did not have a gun," Patti Veazey said.

Veazey argued that if there had been a gun, investigators would have found it.

Veazey contended during the trial that Marlin had admitted to the robbery but that he never had a weapon. Prosecutors argued and witnesses testified that Marlin had his hand under his shirt during the robbery and that the note slid to a teller under the window ordered her to remain calm and give him $50 and $100 bills or he would "shoot everyone in the bank."

"We never found the note either, but we know it existed," said Brad Rigby, assistant district attorney.

Marlin's mother testified that her son had lived with her since his father died in 1994. She testified that she had never had any problems with Marlin and that she had brought him up with the idea that it was wrong to steal. She also testified that Marlin had suffered a head injury in 1982 when he fell into an Orlando, Fla., drainage ditch.

"The doctor said he had a 50/50 chance of living if he had an operation," Addie Marlin said. "He needs help. Don't just throw him to the wolves."

Marlin said her son had shown remorse and had told her that if he could turn back time, he wouldn't commit the crime. She also testified that he has mental problems and seems to hear voices that tell him what to do.

Veazey said that a psychiatrist and a psychologist had evaluated Marlin prior to trial, but their conclusions were not such that she could use those findings in his defense. She described him as suicidal, hallucinogenic and psychotic.

"He has multiple suicide attempts and has been sent to Southwestern at least five times," Veazey said.

Testimony revealed that Marlin had been charged with possession of cocaine in 1990 and theft in 1994, but the cases had been thrown out. Veazey said Marlin did not have a violent history.

"This crime doesn't warrant life in prison," said Veazey.

Glenn Willis, senior vice president of South Georgia Banking Company, said that employees at the bank, particularly the teller who was robbed, had experienced emotional and mental stress since December.

"Show the citizens of Tift County that a bank robbery is a very, very serious crime and that would deter any one else thinking about doing that," Willis told Davis.

Davis said the crime was calculated and planned.

"You intended to create the impression you had a gun and would shoot," Davis said. "It was calculated and planned down to the teller, the victim."

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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