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Suspected bank robber can’t waive public defender

A man who allegedly robbed a Medford bank, then paid for a meal at Carl’s Jr. with the take, has been found mentally sound enough to participate in his legal defense, but a judge denied the man’s earlier motions to waive court-appointed defense lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane found Monday that Stephen Louis Plante, 36, is “not suffering from a mental disease” that would make him unable to understand the nature and consequences of the bank robbery charge filed against him last fall, according to court filings Monday in Medford.

McShane, however, ruled that Plante “does lack the competency” to make an intelligent waiver of counsel.

Plante has remained in custody since Nov. 1 on a charge of robbing the Washington Federal Bank on Biddle Road of $352 that morning, according to court and jail records. He allegedly used a note, but investigators don’t believe a weapon was involved. Within half an hour of the robbery, Medford police and the FBI arrested Plante inside the Carl’s Jr., a few blocks north of the bank.

At the time of Plante’s arrest, investigators learned that the bank recorded serial numbers of the bills they gave Plante, and that he paid for his meal at the restaurant using one of the bills involved, police said.

In January, McShane ordered a psychological evaluation of Plante’s mental fitness, according to documents ordering Shasta County Mental Health Services and Restpadd Psychiatric Health Facility in Redding to release any medical records. The completed report is sealed in court records.

McShane set a trial date of May 15 for Plante, records also show. Plante remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail without bail.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Stephen Louis Plante