Bank robber who led manhunt in Va., D.C. sentenced

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — The prisoner who grabbed a gun from a contract security guard watching him at Inova Fairfax Hospital in March before bursting out of the trunk of a car to steal it then finally being caught in D.C. nine hours later was sentenced to the statutory minimum of 32 years in prison Friday.

Wossen Assaye first tried to withdraw the guilty plea he had entered in July because he says he did not have adequate assistance from his lawyers in the public defender’s office and that he did not have the proper mental state to agree to a plea.

Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected the request to delay sentencing, and called the evidence in the case “overwhelming.”

“Buyer’s remorse is not a basis for withdrawal of a guilty plea,” she said. “He was literally caught red handed.”

Assaye told the court that he was really suffering when he escaped. Court documents show he had been diagnosed with depression before he attempted suicide while being held on bank robbery charges.

He was at Inova Fairfax being treated for injuries related to that attempt when he stole a gun from a security officer working under a contract with the U.S. Marshals while her partner was out of the room.

When the partner heard her screams, he returned and fired a shot at Assaye, who used the female guard as a shield to allow him to escape down the stairs.

It turns out the gun he stole was not loaded because the clip apparently fell out.

“I’m sorry for the crimes I committed,” Assaye said before he was sentenced.

But “some of the facts are not true,” he said, claiming that in the dark room he could not have pointed the gun at the other officer.

As part of the plea deal, he also admitted to 12 bank bank robberies over about a year and a half beginning in October 2013. He was only released from a previous sentenced in April 2013.

Prosecutors asked for 35 years under the terms of the plea deal. Under the original indictment, Assaye could have faced life in prison. As it is, he will be nearly 70 when the prison sentence is over.

Assaye gave a small wave to his family members sitting a few rows behind him as he was brought in wearing a green prison jumpsuit over a t shirt.

He will also have to pay $34,870 in restitution largely through his prison job which will likely pay less than $1 per hour.

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