LINCOLN — Note to robbers: Get rid of your “This is a robbery. Put the money on the counter” note after the stickup.

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court rejected the appeal of a convicted robber, who claimed that police didn’t have proper authority to search him. Their search turned up a note that a witness testified was used in an October 2015 bank robbery in Omaha.

Carlos Garcia, 44, was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison for the robbery. He appealed based on claims of ineffective legal representation and that the note was the product of an illegal search.

According to court records, Garcia entered a Great Western Bank branch on Oct. 27, 2015, and handed an envelope to a teller. Inside was a note reading “This is a robbery. Put the money on the counter.”

The terrified teller emptied his cash drawer, placed the contents on the counter and backed away. Garcia fled with about $3,600, jumping into a Toyota SUV in the parking lot and driving away.

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Police traced the SUV to an ex-girlfriend of Garcia’s, which led them to identify Garcia, who was living at a motel, as a suspect in the robbery. Later, police stopped a Chevrolet SUV with no license plates. Garcia ran from the vehicle, but was eventually caught and arrested on suspicion of driving under suspension and fleeing to avoid arrest. He was also detained for questioning about the robbery.

Before an interview with police, Garcia was searched, which is when police found the envelope and the “This is a robbery” note. Omaha police testified that it was standard operating procedure to search suspects before an interview, to ensure that they don’t have weapons or contraband.

The Supreme Court, in a 36-page opinion written by Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman, ruled that the search, even though conducted without a court warrant, was a reasonable “inventory” search following a valid arrest that is allowed under current law.

The court also overruled Garcia’s claims that he had ineffective legal representation, and was incompetent to stand trial because he had been diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder.

Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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