CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Lincoln County woman, who admitted last year to wearing a clown mask when she robbed the Teays Valley nursing home where she worked, followed weeks later by a West Hamlin bank, will spend 10 years in federal prison.After she offered a tearful apology to her family and her former co-workers, Morgan Marie Mullins, 28, was sentenced Thursday to 120 months in prison on two counts of armed robbery and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence. She pleaded guilty to those charges last year.Mullins was wearing scrub pants, a clown mask and Croc-style shoes when she crawled through a window in the nursing home's shower room, which she knew was left unlocked. She brandished a 9mm pistol as she walked through the center, disguising her voice while she demanded pills from the on-duty employees."I have to sleep with the light on," Tiffany Roush, a Teays Valley Center employee, told Mullins during Thursday's hearing. "I'm still scared all the time."
Later that month, Mullins walked into the City National Bank in West Hamlin and demanded money from a teller.During that robbery, she was wearing a black hat with red and white stripes pulled over her face. Bank employees, however, recognized her voice because she was a regular customer there. They also recognized her truck, which was parked outside at the time of the robbery, according to a plea agreement.Mullins became hooked on crushing and snorting oxycodone after a self-destructive bout with gender-identity issues, her lawyer, Rhett Johnson, said in a court filing.Mullins, who according to Butler has a masculine appearance with "cropped hair and noticeable facial hair," attempted suicide several times and has mutilated her body to the point of scarring. She also was the apparent victim of a hate crime when several men attacked her because of her appearance, the filing states.U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston said he did not think Mullins' gender-identity issues were relevant to the robberies, but noted that she had potential for rehabilitation because of her age, lack of criminal record and apparent ability to hold down a stable job."The way I look at it, I think you have the ability to come out of this as a productive citizen again," Johnston said.Reach Zac Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5189.