In a small Texas town a substantial amount of money has been stolen. The mastermind behind the theft was Darius Monroe, a promising high school student. Evolution of a Criminal is an examination of the lure of “easy money,” the effect of crime on the family of the criminal, and the long road to forgiveness.
Narrated by Monroe and told through the eyes of his family members, his story is one of happiness until he realized he was poor. With his mother using him as a sounding board and a robbery of their home resulting in the loss of multiple items including his stepfather’s paycheck, Monroe started to commit crimes to help his family. He began by stealing equipment to replace the equipment stolen from his home. After hearing about someone who robbed the same bank twice successfully, he worked with his friends to rob a bank. He thought he was smart enough not to get caught.
The plan was simple, but well thought out. They picked a bank in an obscure area. On the day of the robbery they went to school as they normally would. Once they left the school after feigning sickness, a bomb threat was called in. Used to deflect attention they directed the police to a local pawn shop. One of the three friends stayed in the car as a driver, while the other two walked into the bank with one gun and no bullets. They worked as quickly as possible and left the bank with over $100,000.
They passed the bevy of cops at the pawn shop and went back to school as if they never left. Normal, everyday life resumed, until one of the three accomplices began to brag about their crime, resulting in their arrest four weeks later.
Monroe’s mother found out the night of the robbery after he left a duffle bag full of cash for her to find on his bed. While upset, saw the money as a solution to the financial issues the family was facing: foreclosure and past due utility bills. Instead of turning him in to authorities the family rallied behind him and hid the money, paying their and other’s bills in the process.
After getting caught, Monroe took a plea deal, was charged as an adult, and sent to prison for five years. He spent the years in jail accomplishing his education goals and kept hopeful for his release.
He said “I wasn’t thinking about what I was gonna miss out on, I was thinking about who I was gonna miss out on.”
After his release he graduated from film school at NYU and went back to his town to make amends. He found the people in the bank at the time of his robbery and apologized to them individually. Some people forgave, others did not. Some were skeptical that he’d changed.
Using interviews and reenactments to tell Monroe’s story was smart. His family portrayed what it felt like to be helpless, watching the one you love go to jail. The women in his family were heartbroken. The men in his life wanted to protect him. To see how differently each person affected by his crime reacted was also eye-opening. He was not always forgiven and while that was to be expected, it wasn’t easy for him to experience on film.
The reenactments of the robbery showed how scared those three kids actually were, but it also showed how scary it must have been to witness the robbery for the bank customers. In all this was an excellent documentary that illustrated how one poor decision can change not just one life, but multiple lives.