Westfall sentenced for 2 BG robberies

Joel Westfall was sentenced Thursday to 11 years in prison for his involvement in two Bowling Green
robberies – Huntington Bank on North Main Street and the former Check Into Cash business on South Main
Street – in November 2007.
Westfall had pleaded guilty to the charges in March. The time will be served consecutive to a 12-year
sentence handed down from Bowling Green, Ky., for the theft of Oxycontin from a pharmacy.
His then girlfriend and co-defendant in the cases, Marijane Tripp, was previously sentenced to four years
for her involvement in the Ohio case, and is also serving time from Kentucky.
Westfall, 28, formerly of Seventh Street, had called in a bomb threat prior to the bank robbery as a
diversionary tactic; and he and Tripp had set their get-away truck on fire at Union Hill Cemetery.
On Thursday, Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex sentenced Westfall to six years in prison for
each of the robberies, those are to be served concurrently. He also was sentenced to one year for
unlawful possession or use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction. The charge stemmed from the use of
children’s clay which he said was a bomb during the robbery. He also was sentenced to two years for each
of two counts of making terroristic threats. The last three are to be served consecutively with the
six-year sentence for the robberies for an aggregate total of the 11 years.
As per the plea agreement, charges of arson and tampering with evidence were dismissed. Westfall also was
ordered to pay restitution in the amount of just under $10,000 for the money taken in the robbery.
Also on hand for the sentencing on Thursday were Westfall’s parents from New Mexico, and a sister.
They each addressed the court prior to sentencing and noted their son has changed in recent months.
T. Hamilton Noll, defense attorney, argued the sentence should be firm, fair and appropriate. He asked
for concurrent sentences noting the remorse shown by the defendant.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said he kept writing down one word when listening to those speaking on
behalf of Westfall. "That word is ‘but,’" Dobson told the court.
"Throughout the PSI (pre-sentence investigation) he offers excuses," Dobson added. After
listing many of them, he concluded, "These are very legitimate reasons to be upset, but not
justifications for his actions."
Dobson pointed out Westfall’s remarks at the Tripp sentencing where he asked the court not to blame her
for his actions.
But the prosecutor saved his strongest remarks for those victims of his crimes, noting the children and
staff of the schools who were evacuated due to the bomb threat, as well as the people who worked in the
places he robbed.
"How many people were terrified and frightened by his actions? He terrorized those people and they
deserve justice," Dobson stressed.
Echoing the defense attorney’s words, he added, " I also want firm, fair and appropriate sentence
for the people of Check Into Cash, for Huntington Bank employees. They deserve that. For the children,
teachers and administration of the BG schools. They deserve a firm, fair and appropriate sentence."

Westfall then addressed the court on his own behalf.
"I’m here for what I did wrong," noting what Dobson called excuses were only contributing
factors, not excuses.
"Being arrested saved my life. I wasn’t arrested, I was rescued," he affirmed noting it gave
him the opportunity to turn his life around.
"I’m more free now in my heart while locked up, than I ever was on the street," he said.
He said the most important thing for him was that the people he hurt know that "in my heart I’m
sorry and ask for their forgiveness."
The judge acknowledged all the comments and stated, "But for a few weeks of insanity, you would not
be here."
Pollex said he had to weigh all the factors and called the situation "a tragedy for all
involved."