South Bend woman gets prison time for role in Buchanan, Niles robberies

Published 11:39 am Monday, May 6, 2024

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NILES — A South Bend woman who acted as the lookout on two robberies last June in the Niles and Buchanan areas is going to prison after being sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court.

Melissa Ann Fisher, 42, of South Bend, pleaded guilty to two counts of unarmed robbery and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 36 months to 15 years in prison. She has credit for 144 days served and must pay $1,858.38 in fines, costs and restitution.

The incidents occurred June 15 at the Admiral gas station on Chicago Road in Niles and Store 12 at Bakertown Road and U.S. 12 in Bertrand Township. She and her co-defendant, Caitlin Wickizer, also took part in robberies in the South Bend area in that time period.

Defense attorney Carri Briseno said that Fisher deeply regrets her actions. She said Wickizer was an “extremely bad influence” on her and that it was Wickizer’s theft of money from Fisher that led the two to do the robberies so Fisher would have money to pay the rent. “She would do things differently if she could go back,” Briseno said.

“I understand I hurt people, I feel really bad for what I did,” Fisher said. “I did something stupid, I was trying to protect my kids and instead I hurt them worse. I regret putting them and the people around me through this. I want ot prove that this is not who I am.”

“I’m a little puzzled,” Berrien County Trial Judge Jennifer Smith said. “You said you did this in an effort to get rent money but you also said you were high on mushrooms and can’t remember all of it and you didn’t know what she was going to do.”

“You pulled off four armed robberies in a short period of time,” the judge added. “You received a suspended probation sentence in Indiana, I’m not inclined to do that here. You had other options. People are desperate all the time, that doesn’t excuse what you did. You should have thought before you did this.”

“These were serious, serious incidents and punishment is necessary,” she said. “You have no criminal record, but unfortunately you started off way at the top.”