Accused Iowa City bank robbery suspect pleads guilty, could spend life in prison

Eric Martin convicted in April hold up at Hills Bank & Trust

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A Davenport man accused of robbing an Iowa City bank with a loaded gun in April and leading officers on a chase that forced schools into lockdown has pleaded guilty in federal court and could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Eric Martin, 35, pleaded guilty Friday to all the charges against him – armed bank robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm, according to court documents.

Martin is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22. He could face up to 25 years in federal prison on the armed robbery charge, a life sentence on the first possession charge and up to 10 years in prison on the felon in possession charge.

The possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in federal prison, meaning he’ll get out no sooner.

According to court documents filed in federal court, Martin is accused of entering Hills Bank and Trust Co., 1401 S. Gilbert St., about 9:30 a.m. April 23 and demanding money from tellers. Surveillance video showed Martin threatening bank employees and customers with a loaded 9-millimeter gun, pointing it at the faces of several people, according to court documents.

Officers saw Martin leave on a motorcycle, and they followed him as he drove “recklessly on sidewalks, through residential yards and on bike trails,” according to a criminal complaint.

When his motorcycle stopped, he tried to flee on foot, police reported. The pursuit ended in a residential yard, where Martin tried to pull his loaded handgun on police, according to a complaint.

Officers knocked him to the ground and took him into custody before he could pull the weapon, the complaint states. The gun was loaded with a round chambered, police reported.

At the time of Martin’s arrest, according to court documents, he had a backpack containing the gun and $23,295 in cash, including several bait bills from the bank robbery.

Martin has a long criminal history in Iowa, starting with his first felony conviction in the state in June 1997 at age 20. He was convicted of theft and other charges and sentenced to five years in prison at that time.

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