Suspect in bank robbery chase charged with murder after Williamston woman dies

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — The man charged in a bank robbery and car chase Friday afternoon is now being charged with second-degree murder after the woman whose car deputies said he ran into during the chase died Wednesday from injuries she sustained in the collision.

Annie Bennett, 86, of Williamston, was driving her car at the intersection of Main Street and South Watts Street when the suspect, eluding law enforcement, collided into her vehcile, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

Bennett was the only person in the car.

The suspect, identified as Michael Ojay Branch of Williamston, was taken into custody immediately following the collision at about 3:18 p.m. Friday.

He is now being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center under a $1 million bond.

Arrest processing has not been completed, therefore bond and court date information are unavailable at the time of this release.

Branch has been identified as the suspect from the April 6 bank robbery of First Bank in Washington, as well as the Friday robbery of the State Employees’ Credit Union.

Washington police responded to a robbery at the State Employees’ Credit Union on 15th Street at 2:42 p.m. in Washington Friday, the Washington Police Department said.

Police said a man entered the credit union and presented the teller with a note demanding money. The man then left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, and no weapon was seen.

The man was seen leaving the area in a white Ford truck with “Fear This” on the front windshield.

The information was then passed along to law enforcement agencies in the area.

Deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a vehicle matching the description of an armed robbery suspect given out by the Washington Police Department around 3:02 p.m.

The suspect refused to stop, deputies said, and a pursuit ensued.

The pursuit began on US Hwy 17 near Macedonia Christian Church and continued down US Hwy 17 into Williamston.

The chase ultimately ended at the intersection of Main Street and South Watts Street when the suspect collided with another vehicle.

All individuals involved in the collision were transported to Martin General Hospital.

Investigators are working with Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort County District Attorney’s Office, Williamston Police Department, NC State Highway Patrol and the FBI.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.


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