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'Tattoo bandit' pleads guilty to 10 Tarrant County holdups

FORT WORTH -- A woman dubbed the "tattoo bandit" by police plead guilty Tuesday morning to 10 robbery charges stemming for a string of holdups last summer in Tarrant County.

Nine other robbery charges are still pending, a prosecutor said Tuesday morning.

Phyllis Dawn Harvey, 34, dressed in mustard Tarrant County jail shirt and pants showed no emotion as she entered her plea before State District Judge Louis Sturns.

Testimony will continue Tuesday in the punishment phase of her trial which attorneys say could take the rest of the week..

Harvey faces a maximum of life in prison.

Harvey, 34, of Euless plead guilty to holdups last summer in Arlington, Bedford, Euless, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Hurst, North Richland Hills and Richland Hills, targeting mostly motels and gas stations. At least four of them included carjackings, authorities said.

In many cases, she used a knife or a gun, authorities said. The Secret Service, U.S. Postal Service officers and the FBI also were involved in the investigation.

Prosecutors Christy Jack and Susan Pruett came to the courtroom Tuesday morning equipped with an assortment of evidence against Harvey, including confessions from her.

"She'd walk in wanting change or to buy a Lottery ticket, getting the clerks to open the register," Pruett said in her opening statement Tuesday morning. "And in the carjackings, she'd walk up to someone asking a question or asking for directions."

The series of robberies began on July 21 in Euless and the most recent ones were reported on Aug. 1 in North Richland Hills and Richland Hills.

She has remained in the Tarrant County Jail without bail because of a parole violation.

The nickname came from a rosary tattoo that witnesses saw on the robber's left wrist.

Harvey was arrested during a traffic stop Aug. 2 in Euless after officers spotted the tattoo.

In a jailhouse interview a few days after her arrest, Harvey said the gun she used in the holdups was never loaded. She also said she needed the money for a cocaine and heroin habit that was costing her $300-$700 a day.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Lex Johnston of Fort Worth told the judge that Harvey had committed the holdups.

"She even confessed to one that police didn’t know about," Johnston said. "But her life has been one where she started doing drugs at an early age. This is a woman with a seventh-grade education who was molested when she was living in Louisiana and later by relatives."