Convicted killer spared death penalty

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DETROIT — A man convicted of murdering an armored truck guard in a 2001 bank robbery in Dearborn was spared the death penalty last week by a federal jury.

Timothy O’Reilly, 37, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole after the 12-member jury on Aug. 24 in the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Michigan was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether to put him to death for his involvement in the fatal shooting of Total Armored Services guard Norman Stephens, age 30, during a robbery at Dearborn Federal Credit Union at Fairlane Town Center.

O’Reilly’s case was a rare one for Michigan, which has not allowed capital punishment since 1846, when it became the first state in the country to ban the practice. But the death penalty is still allowed in certain federal cases, provided jurors reach a unanimous decision.

Federal prosecutors, however, have authorized the death penalty for O’Reilly’s accomplices in the $204,000 heist. Norman Duncan and Kevin Watson will face trial in coming months.

The last time someone was sentenced to death in Michigan was 2002. The defendant in that case currently is on death row. No one has been executed in a Michigan death penalty case since 1938.