Trooper speaks after men are convicted for VB bank robbery, shooting

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The second of two men charged in a 2014 bank robbery, and subsequent shooting of a state police trooper, is now facing 40 years in prison.

Rory Duke Diggs (left) and John Anthony Lewis (Photos: Virginia Beach Police)
Rory Duke Diggs (left) and John Anthony Lewis (Photos: Virginia Beach Police)

Rory Diggs was sentenced to 63 years during a court hearing Wednesday morning. 23 years was suspended, leaving Diggs with 40 years to serve.

His co-defendant, John Lewis, also received a 40-year sentence in a court hearing Tuesday.

Diggs stated in court Wednesday, “I never meant to harm anyone. I apologize to tellers, customers, passersby and Trooper (James) Pew. It wasn’t thought out.”

When Rory Diggs stood in front of judge and apologized for robbing a bank, it did little for Sergeant James Pew.

“I came really close to death and a lot of things flashed before my eyes,” said Pew.

Pew found himself in unexpected fire fight in December 2014. He didn’t know that inside the SUV he was trying to stop were two bank robbers who were heavily armed and wearing body armor.

“It was all routine for me,” Pew added. “I saw the door opening up. I’ve been in countless pursuits in my career, so I thought I was getting ready to have a foot pursuit.”

But then bullets came though his windshield. He knew then this was different and he needed to take cover.

“It wasn’t till I got to the back of my car that the gravity of the circumstances I found myself in really sunk in,” Pew said. “I look up at the sky and told God, ‘Please don’t take me today.'”

Diggs and his partner Lewis were arrested. Pew had a bullet graze his head and now walks with a limp from an injured knee. He also suffers from PTSD. He describes the last two years as “hell” both physically and mentally.

Diggs’ friends took the stand Wednesday to ask the judge for leniency.

“I trust him with my life and with my family’s life,” friend Chris Deabner said. “He knows what he did is wrong. I’m not sure why he would have done that or why he just didn’t ask for help.”

Diggs read a short statement before he found out his punishment.

“I had no intentions of crossing paths with Pew,” Diggs told the judge. “I was trying to get as far away as I could. I had no drive to hurt the man. All I can say is I’m sorry for everyone involved.”

Prosecutors wanted a life sentence for Diggs, while his defense attorney asked that he be sentenced to the same amount of time Lewis received.

“This is not a guidelines case,” the judge said to the court. “I’m not going to give you more time than Mr. Lewis, but I’m not going to give you less.”

“You all heard me argue over the last two days that life in the penitentiary is the appropriate sentence when you fire 29 times at a Virginia State Trooper,” Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle argued. “I still believe that.”

Pew says he is okay with the sentences. He’s still on light duty and hopes to return to the streets soon. His life has forever changed.

“I am lucky,” Pew said. “Every day is blessing and a lot of people take that for granted. I took a lot of things for granted before this.”