ABC7 Exclusive: Rob Royko's defense

March 5, 2009 8:43:04 PM PST
For much of his life, Rob Royko has battled alcoholism and drug abuse. He's been on prescription medication for depression, and bi-polar disorder. His mix of medications, he contends, caused him to do something unexplainable on an April day in 2005. "I drove to the city. I remember bits and pieces. It's like I was a robot, or I was dreaming. I parked the car," said Robert Royko.

And he walked into a bank in his old neighborhood with a box he claimed was a bomb and demanded money from a teller who thought he was joking. An off-duty cop in the bank lobby quickly put him under arrest. There was no bomb.

"I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I'm still going to, I can't believe it," said Royko.

The only way to explain what happened, Royko contends, is the powerful stew of prescription medications he was on. He went, he says, from 150 pills a month to over 600 - valium, depakote for depression, vicodin for back pain - then the anti-psychotic Zyprexa which Royko abruptly stopped a week before the bank robbery attempt because of suicidal feelings.

"I wasn't doctor hopping. I wasn't pharmacy hopping, and it's all proof. It's all in writing," said Royko.

While some medical experts have supported Royko's claim, federal prosecutors argue that his actions on that April day were deliberate, pre-meditated, and his claim of diminished metal capacity doesn't hold up under federal law. The judge in the case has agreed. So Royko cannot use the "meds made me do it" as his defense though that is an argument he says he won't surrender.

"How do I spend my whole life not a criminal and then all of a sudden - boom - I'm on 660 pills, then I try to rob a bank. That's not a coincidence," said Royko.

The judge in this case has expressed empathy for royko but says most people who attempt to rob banks do suffer from mental issues.

Royko's trial is scheduled to begin April 6.