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Prosecutors say DNA evidence links Sharroya Gilkes of Ludlow to 2008 South Hadley bank robbery

Sharroya R. Gilkes, 23, of 83 Highland Ave., pleaded not guilty Thursday in Hampshire Superior Court to one count of armed and masked robbery.

According to First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne, Gilkes allegedly entered the PeoplesBank branch in South Hadley on Dec. 3, 2008, wearing a nylon stocking over her head.

Gilkes threatened a teller with a note that demanded money or else the teller would die, according to court records.

She also allegedly kept her hand under her sweatshirt, leading the teller to believe she was armed, Gagne said.

Gilkes left the bank with about $12,000 and discarded items of clothing as she fled, including the stocking, which was recovered and later analyzed at the state crime lab. Gagne said the lab work retrieved a full DNA profile that prosecutors say is a nearly 100 percent match to Gilkes.

Gagne said that as the investigation continued and Gilkes became a suspect, she was ordered in September 2009 to turn over a DNA sample, which went through several rounds of testing before being matched to the DNA collected from the crime scene evidence.

Gilkes was arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court in early December and indicted by a Hampshire County grand jury on Dec. 18.

Judge Mary-Lou Rup ordered Gilkes held on $5,000 cash bail or $50,000 surety after prosecutors cited the seriousness of the charge, a history of missing court appearances for lesser offenses and her strong ties to North Carolina.

Gilkes’ attorney, Alan Rubin of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, unsuccessfully argued to have her bail reduced to $5,000 personal surety.

Rubin said that following Gilkes’ original arraignment, her family managed to scrape together $5,000, but that it was taken by a family friend who later claimed to have been robbed.

Rup asked Rubin if the alleged theft of the $5,000 had been reported to law enforcement. Rubin said that, as far as he knew, it had not.

Rup said that while she was sympathetic, she felt the circumstances warranted substantial bail to ensure Gilkes’ continued appearances in court.

If she does post bail, Gilkes must abide by a 6 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew and submit to electronic monitoring, avoid drugs and alcohol and submit to random screenings, and have no contact with the alleged victims.

Gilkes is due back in court March 19 for a pre-trial hearing.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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