AUBURN | Michael Burr does not look like a bank robber.
Slightly hunched and white haired, the 65-year-old Weedsport man took careful steps as he walked out of a holding room Thursday morning and into Cayuga County Court. With the guiding hand of a sheriff's deputy on his back, he ambled to the defense table and settled into his seat.
And then, in a quiet voice, Burr admitting threatening a teller and robbing a bank less than one mile away from the place he temporarily called home.
Burr said the months preceding the crime were rough. After checking in and out of a Veterans Affairs hospital, Burr said he landed at Evergreen Heights, an assisted living facility in Weedsport.
But on Dec. 4, he said life felt particularly bad. So, as he walked through downtown Weedsport, Burr set his sights on the village's First Niagara Bank.
"I was in a very depressed mood," Burr said. "I don't know what made me do it."
After entering the 9015 N. Seneca St. bank, Burr said he wrote his demands on the back of a deposit slip — a warning he then passed on to a bank teller.
"On the slip, it said, 'This is a robbery,'" Burr told the court.
After reading the note — which claimed Burr had a gun — the teller gave the defendant $1,000. Then, with a stack of $50 dollars bills, he fled.
He didn't make it very far.
While driving to the First Niagara Bank after hearing reports of a robbery, Sean Crehan of the Weedsport Police Department saw a man matching the description of the robber walking away from the bank. After searching Burr, Crehan found the stolen cash, but no weapon.
"I did not have a weapon," Burr said. "I just had a cellphone."
Before his client plead guilty, defense attorney Ryan Muldoon told Judge Thomas Leone that his client, who he had a history of mental illness, did not want his case to go to trial.
"He also does not want to explore any mental health defense," Muldoon said.
District Attorney Jon Budelmann said that Burr has five misdemeanor convictions dating back to 1979 but that the December bank robbery was Burr's first serious crime.
In exchange for pleading guilty, Burr faces spending either 1 1/3 to four years or two to six years in prison. Both Budelmann and Muldoon differed the sentencing terms to Leone.