SANTA CRUZ -- Jurors began deliberating Thursday whether a Prunedale man robbed a Capitola bank in September 2011 while dressed as a woman.
John White, 37, is charged with robbing the Chase Bank on 41st Avenue on Sept. 12, 2011.
According to Capitola police, a man dressed in a wig and skirt entered the bank on that day and handed a note to the teller claiming to have a bomb strapped to him.
White, who was transferred to Santa Cruz County jail from state prison last year, previously pleaded guilty in two similar bank robberies that occurred in Monterey County around the same time as the Capitola incident.
White admitted to robbing a Comerica bank in Prunedale on Sept. 2, 2011, and trying to rob a Wells Fargo branch in Marina on Sept. 20, 2011.
Santa Cruz County prosecutor Sara Dabkowski said White was wearing female clothing in both of those robberies, just as he did in Capitola.
"It's his signature," she told jurors.
Public defender Zach Schwarzbach argued that White's clothing in the Monterey County cases wasn't overtly female but rather was "goofy clothing." Those disguises weren't anything more than just stuff that could have been picked up at a thrift store, he said. In one of the robberies, Schwarzbach said, White wore a blond wig and what was described as a graduation-like robe.
"Dressing up to disguise yourself is not unique," said Schwarzbach, who argued there were also inaccuracies in the witnesses' description of the Capitola robbery.
He said the witness at the Capitola bank could have been swayed by the powers of suggestion after finding out details from the other robberies to which White pleaded guilty.
Dabkowski refuted the possibility the Capitola robbery was committed by a copycat.
"It's not reasonable to think someone else magically got it all right," she said.
White wore a dark blue shirt in court Thursday, his hair in a shoulder-length braid.
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