Portrait of Robber as Young Man: Abused, Rejected : Psychology: A sentencing memorandum on the 'A's Bandit' describes his traumatic childhood and troubled adolescence.


When David Malley was 2 months old, his father threw him to the floor of a Laundromat. By the time he was 2, his father walked out on the family and never returned. By age 12, his violent and alcoholic mother had sexually molested him a number of times.

Between ages 12 and 18, Malley had been in five different group homes for children. At age 13, he swallowed a dozen of his mother's tranquilizers. A year later, he took 15 to 20 sleeping pills and cut his wrist. When he was 16, his sister stabbed him in the thigh.

By age 19, he was convicted for writing bad checks and spent three weeks in jail. He was released and immediately stole a car. Arrested again, he spent three years in a New York state prison. A month after he was released, he headed for San Diego.

Malley, now 22, is in federal prison, serving a 12-year, 7-month sentence for his role in 23 San Diego-area bank robberies that are part of the famed "A's Bandit" series, so called for a robber who often wore an Oakland A's baseball cap during many of the crimes.

His traumatic childhood and troubled adolescence are spelled out in a sentencing memorandum submitted to U.S. District Court that includes a psychological evaluation and interviews with family members and friends.

Malley called The Times to disclose that the memorandum was available and might be helpful in shedding light on his past and present problems.

Shortly after he arrived in San Diego last February, Malley said, he became a "La Jolla wanna-be" and thought money was the key to his success. He started robbing banks "to support a lifestyle I didn't deserve to lead."

He moved in with two roommates who he said encouraged him to rob banks and described the relative ease with which it could be done. Malley said both roommates took part in the robberies, but neither has ever been charged.

Although 29 banks were robbed, Malley pleaded guilty to eight robberies and confessed to participating in 15 others. The robberies, he said, started as a dare and ended up as his steady occupation.

"I'd already been in prison at the age of 19, and my attitude was antisocial," he said. "I thought, 'Now, I'm a fugitive. Now I have to survive, even if that means violating the law.' "

Malley was born the third of four children to Mary Jane and Robert Malley in Ramapo, N.Y. His father spent time in a psychiatric hospital and now lives in a Salvation Army shelter in Binghamton, N.Y., according to court records.

Malley, his mother and sisters lived in public housing projects. His mother often roused his sisters out of bed, forcing them to drink alcohol with her, but ignored David, lamenting the fact that he was not a girl.

He and his sisters say their mother sexually abused them from the time they were small through their teen years, according to court records. At other times, she beat them with a belt or her fists. The children said nothing.

At age 5 or 6, Malley's bed was set afire. He said his mother did it. His sister and mother said Malley ignited his own bed.

With a life so bleak, young David Malley made up fantasies about his life, telling other children at school that he and his family had just vacationed in Florida or Virginia Beach, and that his father owned two cars, the records show.

One time, Malley arrived home from school to find that his mother had taken his sisters and moved to North Carolina to stay with relatives. She had left a note, instructing him to go spend the night with his grandmother and leaving a dollar for bus fare.

According to his psychological evaluation completed in late November, Malley's verbal IQ is 114, putting him in a "high-average" range. However, tests show he is "narcissistic, self-indulgent and impulsive."

Extroverted and talkative, Malley is also described in the evaluation as having "chronic feelings of being cheated, misunderstood and unappreciated." People tend to take advantage of him, and his relationships "are often characterized by self-debasing and self-sacrificing acts," according to psychologist Wistar H. MacLaren.

Laura Castillo, a roommate of Malley's at the time he was arrested, said he took good care of her 9-year-old daughter, often taking her to school and picking her up when classes ended.

Less than a month before Malley was arrested, Castillo invited him to her parents' home for Easter dinner.

Malley was stunned.

"He couldn't believe how members of our family got along," she said. "He said he didn't think families like ours existed. He said his family was always yelling and screaming, cutting each other down."

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