Crime

A robbery attempt, an investigation, an officer’s slaying. Getaway driver gets prison.

Carl Lee Banks, center, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison. To the right is his attorney, John Helmuth.
Carl Lee Banks, center, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison. To the right is his attorney, John Helmuth. Greg Kocher

The getaway driver in an attempted robbery that led to the fatal shooting of Richmond police officer Daniel Ellis was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.

Carl Lee Banks, 37, pleaded guilty in July to first-degree wanton endangerment, criminal facilitation to attempted robbery and bail jumping.

On Nov. 4, 2015, Banks drove Raleigh Sizemore and Rita Creech in a van to a gas station in Richmond, where Sizemore attempted a robbery. The police investigation led Ellis, 33, a seven-year veteran of the Richmond department, to Gregory Ratliff’s apartment in search of Sizemore.

Sizemore was holding Creech against her will in a back bedroom, according to police.

Ratliff let Ellis into the apartment and allowed him to search it. Ratliff told police that no one else was there and that there were no weapons in the apartment, police said. When Ellis crossed the threshold of the bedroom door, Sizemore shot him, according to police reports. Ellis died two days later.

Creech, 46, was sentenced to probation in June. She pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation to attempted robbery and wanton endangerment.

Banks’ defense attorney, John Helmuth, asked Judge William Clouse Jr. for probation rather than jail time.

Helmuth said police had arrested Banks before Ellis was shot.

“He was not involved in the horrible tragedy that occurred,” Helmuth said. “Probation would not unduly depreciate what he has been charged with.”

Clouse denied probation.

As part of her plea agreement, Creech is to testify against Sizemore, who is charged with murder, unlawful imprisonment, being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, and two counts of attempted murder of a police officer.

Sizemore’s charge of unlawful imprisonment stems from the accusation that he held Creech at gunpoint in the apartment before Ellis was shot.

The trial for Sizemore and Ratliff is scheduled for next year. If convicted, each could face the death penalty.

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