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Bank robber who spent one day in jail will spend two years in prison

A bank robber who was released from the Jackson County Jail a day after his arrest is now headed to prison for almost two years.

David Dean Johnson, 42, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of third-degree robbery and was sentenced to 22 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $1,176 in restitution. Johnson was scheduled to be taken into custody immediately for transport to prison.

On March 15, Johnson entered a Wells Fargo bank branch in Ashland and handed a bank teller a written note demanding money. He also demanded money from a second bank employee. He left the bank with cash but was tracked down by police and arrested about six hours later, according to police.

However, Johnson wasn't in jail long. He was released the next day due to overcrowding, records show.

Johnson wasn't required to post bail. Instead, he was released on his own recognizance, despite a history of failing to appear in court, court records show.

A week before the bank robbery, Johnson was arrested on warrants for failing to appear in court on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. He was released from jail in less than eight hours because of overcrowding.

At the time, the basement level of the jail was closed, with dozens of beds there unavailable for use. Former Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls had closed the basement because it couldn't be staffed without forced overtime. Deputies were also falling behind on training.

Under current Sheriff Nathan Sickler, staffing levels have been boosted and more training has been completed. The jail basement was reopened in late April. Less than a week later, the jail was again full, even with the added beds.

Sickler has said the community needs a larger, better-designed jail.

After Johnson was arrested for the March 15 bank robbery and released from jail, he continued to cause problems in the Rogue Valley.

In a disorderly conduct case, Johnson was accused of smoking inside a Talent laundromat May 17 and being confrontational with a woman who told him not to smoke there. He allegedly threatened to kill a Talent police officer and the officer's family as the officer was taking him to jail. His blood alcohol level was 0.21 percent, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Johnson was released from jail on his own recognizance, court records show.

In a trespassing case, Johnson allegedly entered a vacant house in Talent and slept there after being released from jail. He was arrested May 19, according to a probable cause affidavit. Again, he was released on his own recognizance, court records show.

In a harassment and third-degree theft case, Johnson allegedly stole beer from an Ashland grocery store May 26 and collided with a girl while running away from store security personnel, according to another probable cause affidavit. He was released on his own recognizance, court records show.

Charges for the three May cases were dismissed as part of Johnson's plea agreement in the bank robbery case.

During the Thursday court hearing, in which Johnson entered guilty pleas in the bank robbery case, defense attorney Colin Murphy attributed Johnson's criminal behavior to alcohol.

"I believe the issue underlying all of this is alcohol," Murphy said. "It's like night and day when he's sober versus when he's not sober."

Murphy said the bank robbery charges have served as a wake-up call for Johnson.

"When I get out of prison this time, I won't drink and I won't be a problem to the community," Johnson said.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

David Dean Johnson