By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
— A man arrested in St. Peter in January 2012 has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Brewster fewer than two hours earlier.
A toy gun and a large amount of cash, including marked money robbed from the Rolling Hills Bank & Trust in Brewster, was found in a car 49-year-old Mark Edward Wetsch was driving when he was stopped in St. Peter on Jan. 3, 2012. The Brewster bank had been robbed fewer than two hours before the stop.
A St. Peter detective told local officers to watch for a car seen leaving Brewster because it matched the description of one used when the Wells Federal Bank in St. Peter had been robbed about two weeks earlier.
That detective also knew FBI investigators believed the suspect in the St. Peter bank robbery, as well as several others around Minnesota, lived in the Twin Cities area. The vehicle seen after the Brewster robbery was heading northeast on Highway 60. So the detective knew, if the Brewster robber was the same suspect, he would likely be traveling through St. Peter on his way home.
Wetsch pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Paul.
Wetsch, who is still facing 12 additional bank robbery charges in federal court, has been granted a request to represent himself when he goes to trial. He asked to have his attorneys removed after backing out of plea agreement a year ago.
Since then Wetsch has filed dozens of pretrial motions, including a recent motion requesting to be temporarily released from custody to prepare for his trial. Other motions have dealt with access to investigation information and his treatment in jail as a practicing Muslim.