Drugstore robber gets 6-year sentence
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 9, 2009 · 3:43 PM
Stephen Allen robbed Walgreens at gunpoint while visiting Oak Harbor with a friend March 15. The 23-year-old Kirkland resident agreed to a plea bargain last month that means six years behind bars.
Although there were no legal shockers at the recent sentencing hearing, attorneys on both sides of the aisle agreed that it was an unusually melancholy scene for everyone involved.
“It’s the most heartbreaking case I’ve ever dealt with,” Allen’s attorney, Oak Harbor attorney Nicki Thompson-Crain, said.
Allen had no criminal history, aside from a misdemeanor juvenile conviction. He held a good job. He took care of his two parents, who are both medically fragile. His father has advanced-stage cancer and probably won’t live to see his son free again.
“He is really a great kid,” Thompson-Crain said. “He had tons of potential.”
But somehow, Allen became addicted to OxyContin, a prescription painkiller. Thompson-Crain said it was the drug that drove Allen to steal a handgun from Greenes Gun Shop on North Whidbey and hatch a half-baked plan to rob Walgreens.
At about 10 a.m. March 15, Allen walked into the store, pointed a gun at the pharmacist and demanded OxyContin. He got the drugs, dropped the gun on the way out, picked it up, then walked to Safeway and called his friend to pick him up. Two hours later, the police arrested Allen.
Island County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said Allen originally claimed that he had flushed all the drugs, but later told a detective where to find them.
Ohme said he gave Allen a break in the plea bargain because he had no prior felony convictions and was cooperative after his arrest.
Allen pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to robbery in the first degree, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm in the second degree and theft of a firearm.
Allen agreed to an exceptional sentence of six years in prison, which is more than a year beyond the top of the standard sentencing range. In exchange, Ohme didn’t add a firearm enhancement to the robbery charge, which would have added a mandatory five years to the sentence. Also, he didn’t charge Allen with drug possession.
At the sentencing, Allen apologized to the pharmacist and pledged to get drug treatment. His parents and pastor spoke on his behalf.
But Judge Alan Hancock ruled that a six-year sentence was appropriate for the seriousness of the crime and entered the judgement.
The hearing ended sadly, Ohme said, when Allen’s parents asked the judge if they could hug their son. Hancock deferred to the corrections deputy, who said it was against policy.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.