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Manatee prosecutors drop most charges against suspected bank robber

BRADENTON — Citing a lack of evidence and errors by police, prosecutors today announced they will charge a woman who reportedly admitted to holding up several Manatee County banks with only one of the hold-ups.

When officers arrested Michele Blalock on Feb. 17, she told Bradenton Police Detective Greg Price that she didn’t want to talk without an attorney present, but officers continued to talk to her, according to a memo written by Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro explaining the decision to limit prosecution.

It was during that time that the 38-year-old woman confessed to the robberies, authorities say.

“Since the defendant invoked her right to an attorney the defendant’s subsequent confession is subject to suppression and therefore inadmissible at trial,” Chittaro wrote.

“There is no physical tangible evidence which proves this defendant committed these robberies,” Chittaro wrote. “There are no witnesses, no prints, nor was any evidence recovered from the robberies. The only available evidence connecting the defendant to these robberies are her admissions to law enforcement which we made after she had invoked her right to counsel.”

Blalock, 38, of Cortez Road, allegedly donned different hats and scarves during five different robberies in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The heists took place: Jan. 30, at Fifth Third Bank, 6600 block of Manatee Avenue West; Feb. 4, at Fifth Third Bank, 6600 block of Cortez Road West; Feb. 4, at M&I Bank, 5500 block of Manatee Avenue West (attempted); and Feb 14, at Bank of America, 3400 block of Cortez Road West.

The Feb. 14 robbery was investigated by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

In that case, prosecutors have charged Blalock with one count of robbery. Court records show she is scheduled for a court hearing next week on that charge.

On Feb. 10, Blalock also allegedly robbed a Bank of America branch in the 5400 block of Fruitville Road, Sarasota.

Sarasota officers handled that investigation, and Sarasota prosecutors have charged her with robbery, a Sarasota court clerk said this afternoon.

Robbery is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.