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Satterlee gets nearly four years for bank robbery

A tip from a family member, handwriting analysis of his note demanding cash and eyewitness identification persuaded the man who robbed the PremierWest Bank in Shady Cove last November to plead guilty Thursday.

Bruce Ryan Satterlee, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree robbery before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Crain. He was sentenced to 50 months in prison and five years of post-prison supervision. Crain also ordered Satterlee to pay about $2,000 in fines and restitution.

The robbery, which netted Satterlee $400, occurred just before noon on Nov. 13, 2007. Satterlee entered the bank and handed the teller a note demanding money. The teller, who remained calm, gave Satterlee several opportunities to leave without money, said Shady Cove police Sgt. Julie Denney after the sentencing.

"I wanted him to make sure he knew what he was doing," the teller told Crain at Thursday's sentencing.

Satterlee did not display a weapon, but implied that he had one. Satterlee took the cash from the teller, apologized, then fled on foot, Denney said.

Satterlee's actions were a threat to everyone in the bank and disturbed the safety of the workplace, the teller said in court. The woman urged Crain not to give Satterlee a "light sentence."

"Work is supposed to be a safe place to go," she said.

Police received numerous tips in the days following the robbery. But none produced any viable leads. Satterlee had just moved to Shady Cove and had no previous contact with the police department there. He rarely left his home, a small trailer in an RV park where he lived with his mother, Kathleen Satterlee.

A break in the case came in the form of an anonymous e-mail tip on Dec. 5, 2007, naming Satterlee as the person who robbed the bank. Detectives with the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force traced the e-mail to one of Satterlee's relatives, said Denney.

When presented with a photo lineup, the bank teller immediately identified Satterlee as the suspect. Police obtained a search warrant for Satterlee's residence and arrested him there the next day, Denney said.

A handwriting analyst with the Oregon State Police crime lab concluded that Satterlee wrote the demand note, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert.

After admitting guilt, Satterlee apologized to the bank teller, telling the judge he did not intend to hurt anyone.

"I think it had to do with my desperation for my children," Satterlee said.

Crain scoffed at Satterlee's reasoning, stating his children and his other family members were all suffering as a direct result of his actions.

"You did this to them. You caused this pain," Crain said.

Satterlee's mother attempted to speak during the sentencing, but was denied by Crain.

"I love you, Ryan," she said, crying.

Afterwards, Kathleen Satterlee was dissuaded from giving a statement to the media by her son's defense attorney, David Orf.

Satterlee has been in jail since his Dec. 7 arrest for the Shady Cove bank robbery. Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said Satterlee's claims of remorse were disingenuous, based on recent monitored phone calls.

"Several times he has stated if his family member had only kept her mouth shut, he wouldn't be in this position," Fagan said after the sentencing.

In addition to the robbery sentence, Satterlee faces two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment stemming from the death of toddler Caleb David Hearne last year.

The boy's mother, Trisha Marie Torresan, 25, is serving a 3.5-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree criminally negligent homicide for delivering the killing blow to her son in February 2007.

Satterlee was dating Torresan at the time and police allege he knew about the abuse that led to Caleb's death. The couple are no longer together.

Thursday's robbery plea agreement will not release Satterlee from facing the mistreatment charges, Heckert said.

"He still has the trial for two counts of criminal mistreatment in the first degree," she said.

No trial date in the Hearne case has been set.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Satterlee gets nearly four years for bank robbery