FAYETTEVILLE — Washington County Circuit Judge William Storey sentenced Gentry’s Nathan Chism to 45 years in state prison Tuesday for robbing two Dickson Street banks and a business earlier this year.
Twenty years ago, Storey also sentenced Chism’s dad, Harold, to life in prison plus 40 years after he nearly killed a Springdale woman then left her in the woods, according to court records.
Son and father had the same defense attorney.
Nathan Chism, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of robbery. Storey sentenced Chism to serve two 45-year sentences concurrently for attempted murder and aggravated robbery. He also sentenced Chism to 20 concurrent years on each of the remaining two charges.
“He’s going to have to serve about 32 years before his first chance of parole,” said John Threet, Washington County prosecutor.
Chism was originally charged in July with attempted capital murder and three counts of aggravated robbery. Chism attempted July 21 to rob the Arkansas Gold & Silver Exchange on College Avenue. He was shot twice by Chris Leach, an employee, after Chism stabbed Leach in the arm, Threet told Storey.
Police linked Chism to the May 6 robbery of the Bank of Fayetteville’s “train bank” at 542 W. Dickson St. and the June 16 robbery of a Bank of America branch at 703 W. Dickson St.
At both banks, Chism handed clerks an envelope with the words “put the money in here quickly,” Threet said after court. He never showed a weapon or spoke.
“I’m sure his thinking was, ‘If I don’t say anything or have a weapon, it can’t be robbery,’” Threet said.
Chism left with $745 after the first robbery. He fled without any money at the second robbery because the clerks took too long to meet his demand, Threet said.
Washington County Circuit Court records indicate Chism has been convicted of numerous felony charges dating back to 2001, including delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana), possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, second-degree forgery, theft, failure to pay child support, first-degree terroristic threatening and possession of a controlled substance.
“We’re happy with the sentence, and I appreciate the prosecutor and Chris Leach, the victim, working with us,” said Marianne Hudson, Chism’s attorney.
Hudson remembered working to defend Nathan Chism’s father.
“He was one of my first cases,” Hudson said. “It was 20 years ago. It was a battery. His dad is still in prison. I can’t remember the facts from that long ago, but it was a bad case.”
Harold Chism on April 27, 1991, kidnapped a woman, brutally beat her then stole a ring and her vehicle after leaving her in a remote wooded area, according to a court documents written by Andrew Ziser, who was then prosecutor.
“The ring and vehicle keys were found in his pocket when he was arrested the next day,” Ziser wrote in Nov. 5, 1991. “Victim is still receiving medical treatment for her injuries, including eye reconstruction surgery. Victim has also permanently lost her sense of smell and taste.”
The Springdale woman testified she met Harold Chism and asked directions for finding an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting place, according to news reports. The jury recommended life in prison plus 40 years and a $20,000 fine on Nov. 4, 1991.
On Tuesday, Storey told Harold Chism’s son, who sat in a wheelchair, the prison sentence isn’t for life.
“Mr. Chism, 20 years ago I sentenced your father to prison,” the judge said. “He committed very serious crimes. He remains there today. It’s unfortunate you have chosen to follow in his footsteps. Thanks to your lawyer, you do have an opportunity, perhaps will have an opportunity to get out. I hope, if that occurs, you take up a legitimate line of work.”