Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
                                Duane Payne pleads guilty to robbery and kidnapping charge.

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times Duane Payne pleads guilty to robbery and kidnapping charge.

Bank robber sentenced to prison

A man who robbed an Oak Harbor bank April 30 and terrorized two employees was sent to prison last week.

Duane Payne, a 20-year-old Oak Harbor resident, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Oct. 24 to robbery in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree and kidnapping in the second degree.

Judge Vickie Churchill agreed with the prosecution’s recommendation and sentenced Payne to eight years in prison, the maximum under the standard sentencing range.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said the robbery of Washington Federal Savings was traumatic and life changing for the two employees in the bank; Payne waved what they thought was a gun in their faces while he was demanding money.

“Both of them thought this was going to be their last day on Earth,” Ohme said.

The weapon was never found and investigators don’t know if it was a real gun, he said.

Payne staked out the bank “for a number of days,” Ohme said, before committing the robbery.

Payne fled to California after escaping a police foot chase and was picked up by law enforcement there. Ohme said Payne was cooperative with investigators when he returned to Island County, which was why the prosecution agreed to a plea bargain with one of the first-degree kidnapping charges amended to second degree.

Payne’s attorney, Margot Carter, said her client knows he messed up and wanted to take responsibility. She said he was having mental health issues and using flakka, a synthetic stimulant similar to “bath salts.” It can cause “paranoia and hallucinations that may lead to violent aggression and self-injury,” according to the DEA.

Carter said flakka had a drastic effect on Payne’s personality.

“It’s clear to me he wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for the drugs,” she said.

Earlier in October, Dustin Gilders, 24, pleaded guilty to acting as an accomplice to the robbery and was sentence to three years and five months in prison. He acted as a lookout in the robbery and drove Payne and his family off the island afterward.

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