5-time convicted bank robber sentenced to 11 years in prison

The San Mateo judge presiding over the case dismissed the man’s five prior felony convictions while sentencing him

COUNTY OF SAN MATEO — On Tuesday, a San Mateo judge sentenced a five-time bank robber to 11 years in prison after dismissing his prior convictions from sentencing consideration, despite prosecutors’ requests for a life sentence.

Cleophas Kirksey, 55, of San Pablo, was convicted of robbery and felony commercial burglary on Aug. 23, his fifth robbery conviction and sixth felony conviction overall. The August conviction was related to an incident on Feb. 10, 2022, at the Wells Fargo inside the Lucky supermarket at 6843 Mission Street in Daly City.

Kirksey allegedly entered the bank and handed the teller a note that read, “Give me all of your large bills; I don’t want 20s.” The teller handed him a wad of cash worth $4,000. He then fled on foot from the store.

Kirksey was not armed at the time of the burglary.

At the time of the robbery, he was on federal probation and was arrested five days later. At his arraignment, he pled not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors in San Mateo County sought a three-strikes sentence of 25 years to life for his fifth bank robbery conviction. Judge Sean P. Dabel, who presided over the case, granted the defense’s Romero motion on Tuesday, dismissing all prior convictions from consideration during criminal sentencing.

“I still think that when one has that many priors — serious and violent prior felony convictions — we felt that the sentence of 25-to-life was warranted,” San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said. “He should prove, by a lengthy period in prison, that he’s safe to return.”

Kirksey was not armed during the burglary, he suffered sexual abuse as a child that affected him into adulthood, and he was taking classes to better himself while in county jail, according to Wagstaffe.

“While we don’t agree with Judge Dabel, his decision was reasonable,” Wagstaffe went on to say.

Kirksey was given credit for 693 days of his 11-year sentence. He was denied the option of probation.

John May, Kirksey’s defense attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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