Charges expected in death of pizza delivery man

In this photo released Sept. 17, 2005, by the FBI, Brian Wells, of Erie, Pa., carries a plastic bag of cash after robbing the PNC bank in Summit Towne Centre in Erie on Aug. 28, 2003. Wells is sucking on a lollipop, wearing a collar bomb and carrying a cane-shaped firearm.ERIE TIMES-NEWS via AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

The first charges are expected this week in the nearly four-year-old case of a pizza delivery man who, after he robbed a bank, was killed by a bomb that had been locked around his neck.

An indictment is to be handed up against Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, 58, who has been interviewed by federal investigators, according to her public defender, Thomas Patton. She is already in state prison after pleading guilty but mentally ill to killing her boyfriend.

Pizza delivery man Brian Wells, 46, was caught shortly after the bank robbery on Aug. 28, 2003. As he sat handcuffed in a parking lot, waiting for a bomb squad, he told police he had been accosted by gunmen at a TV tower where he had been sent to deliver a pizza.

He said the gunmen locked the bomb on his neck and ordered him to rob the bank. The device exploded before the bomb squad arrived.

The body of Diehl-Armstrong's boyfriend was found in 2003 in a freezer at a home near the television tower.

In an emergency motion filed Monday in federal court in Erie, Patton is seeking a gag order barring authorities from holding a news conference to announce charges against Diehl-Armstrong. He said he was worried about publicity jeopardizing her right to a fair trial.

Patton said in the motion he did not know what specific charges she faces.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan would not comment Monday. She has said the investigation was hampered by the deaths of two witnesses but has refused to identify them.

The woman's personal attorney, Lawrence D'Ambrosio, told The Associated Press she may have known people behind the robbery but did not know the bomb victim. He said he is convinced she is innocent.

Life-saving instructions found
After Wells was killed, authorities found a nine-page handwritten letter with detailed instructions on what he was to do with the bank money. It also told him how he could find out how to unlock the collar, spelling out several scavenger hunt-like steps that required him to drive around looking for clues and landmarks.

Wells' family has said he was an innocent victim. Authorities have declined to say whether they believe he was a victim, a conspirator or perhaps something in between: a dupe who knew something about the robbery but didn't realize the risk he would bear.

D'Ambrosio, who acted as Diehl-Armstrong's attorney before Patton was appointed her public defender, said she had tried to help investigators.

He said he did not believe a jury would convict her in this case. "If they're going to try to indict her because she was in the vicinity of people who might be guilty in this thing, they'll have to show she had knowledge, they'll have to show she was part of the conspiracy," D'Ambrosio said.