Father, Son Convicted on Bank Robbery, Murder Charges

  • September 27, 2005

A Tulsa, Oklahoma, jury convicted a father and son of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery for a deadly bank robbery carried out to finance violent acts against the government.

Wade Lay, 44, and Christopher Lay, 20, were convicted on September 26, 2005, for attempting to rob the Mid-First bank in Tulsa on May 24, 2004, and killing a security guard during the attempt.  During the trial, both defendants admitted to the robbery, which was caught on videotape.  They said they needed to get money to be able to retaliate against the government because of its role in the standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and Waco, Texas, in 1993.

The bank robbery was unsuccessful, because a gunfight erupted with a security guard, Kenneth Anderson, who wounded both Lays before being killed by their gunfire.  The Lays fled the scene, but were soon apprehended.  Both admitted to police to having been involved in the robbery; Chris Lay told police that the robbery was intended to secure money with which to attain more "explosive" firearms.

After the robbery, police served a search warrant on the Lays' apartment, finding a list of "allies" and "enemies," including detailed references to people associated with the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff.  Police also found anti-government and conspiracy literature about Ruby Ridge and Waco. 

At a pre-trial hearing, Wade Lay, who represented himself, tried to conduct a "necessity defense," claiming that his own actions were justified because of the conduct of the federal government, but the judge in the case disallowed such a defense.  He also filed a motion asking to be able to tell jurors how he arrived at "strong convictions of the necessity to engage in defensive measures to protect himself and his family from tyranny."

Chris Lay, through his court-appointed attorney, tried a similar tactic, filing a motion to be able to present evidence about the Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs "to demonstrate the need to take action against the federal government."  The request was declined. 

During the trial, Chris Lay was questioned by his father.  The younger lay said he needed money to prepare "for conflict" and for "what you and I were planning to do."  In his own statement, Wade Lay said that he and Chris had acted "for the good of the American people."

The two face a possible death sentence during the penalty phase of the trial.


On September 28, 2005, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, jury sentenced Wade Lay to death and his son Christopher Lay to life in prison without parole. Both men were convicted two days earlier of murdering security guard Kenneth Anderson during a failed robbery at a Tulsa bank in 2004.

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