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By Amy Forliti, Associated Press Writer, Published June 12 2010

Minnesota SWAT officer ‘just wanted to die’

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minneapolis SWAT officer who held up a suburban bank and who is accused of robbing several other businesses was worried about his wife and sick daughter and tormented by nightmares from his time fighting in Iraq, his attorney said in a court filing Friday.

Timothy Carson, 29, was so overwhelmed in the months before the January bank robbery that he “just wanted to die,” so he decided to commit a robbery and end his life in a confrontation with police so his wife could get a $250,000 insurance payout, according to the document filed by federal defender Andrea George.

“His world was falling apart,” she wrote.

Carson pleaded guilty in March to robbing the bank, and state prosecutors have charged him in 12 other robberies or attempted robberies that occurred in the days leading up to his arrest. Those charges are pending.

In her filing, George asked U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz to give Carson the minimum seven years in prison and five years supervised release for his guilty plea on counts stemming from the bank robbery, saying he was under a tremendous amount of stress and needs psychological treatment, not a lengthy prison sentence.

Carson’s family members, including his wife, declined to be interviewed for this story. But George’s leniency request depicts a man who was tormented and saw no way out.

Carson entered the Wells Fargo bank in Apple Valley shortly after it opened Jan. 6, jumped on the counter while wearing a mask, pointed a gun at the frightened tellers and made off with $4,580 before heading to work at the police department.

Carson joined the Marine Corps Reserves out of high school in 2000 and served with the Minneapolis-St. Paul-based 4th Marine Division for six years, including a tour in Iraq in 2004. While there, he earned several awards, including the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, which he received for actions during a mortar attack at Camp Ramadi in May 2004.

That attack left six dead and 30 wounded. According to a recommendation for the award, Carson ran toward the injured, some of whom had “severe sucking chest wounds,” and administered first aid. He’s credited with saving many lives, but George wrote that Carson was haunted by one Navy sailor he couldn’t save.

Family members said in letters to George that Carson returned home a different man and seemed to have lost his zest for life.

According to George, Carson projected an image that he was unaffected by his combat experience, when in reality, he was experiencing anxiety and feelings of guilt. In October, he battled symptoms of depression and thought himself an inadequate father and husband. He has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and PTSD, she said.

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