A convicted robber was sentenced to prison Wednesday for ordering a Walgreens pharmacist to hand over bottles of prescription medications or he would blow up a bomb in his backpack.
Joseph Gary Jensen, 40, received the six-year, one-month sentence in Benton County Superior Court.
He originally was charged with first-degree robbery for the 2008 crime, but pleaded guilty on the first day of trial, Oct. 25, to second-degree robbery. Prosecutors said in court documents that they agreed to reduce the charge in a plea deal because the state would not be able to prove that a deadly weapon was displayed.
Jensen, in his plea statement, said he unlawfully took property from the Kennewick store pharmacist. "The taking was against his will by the threat of immediate force. I used the threat to obtain drugs and money," he wrote.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
The victim was not physically injured in the June 28, 2008, robbery.
Jensen was released from the custody of the state Department of Correctionsin April 2008.
Two months later, he walked into the Walgreens on Highway 395 at Clearwater Avenue at 3:30 a.m. and handed the pharmacist a note that said, "Give me all of your Oxycontin, morphine and methadone. I have a bomb. We will all die if you don't give me the items."
The pharmacist retrieved 20 bottles of the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs from a locked cabinet, activating an emergency alarm in the process. Jensen meanwhile counted down in 10-second increments from 60, then dumped the bottles into his backpack, documents said.
The victim reportedly saw several brown-colored medicine-type glass bottles and a white dish inside the backpack.
Jensen then demanded money and was given about $200, documents said. He then left the store.
A Kennewick police officer recognized Jensen after reviewing security video taken in the store. Police tried to contact Jensen but learned he had left for Portland. He was wanted on warrants from the Department of Corrections for escape and for a DUI case.
Defense lawyer Gary Metro wrote in a memo to the court that his client "has been plagued since childhood with trauma" and suffers from mental illness. He also said that just 11/2 weeks before the robbery, Jensen was attacked by strangers in Portland, which resulted in a concussion and a fractured skull. Jensen had surgery for the injury, which led to his need for pain medication.
A Spokane psychologist who evaluated Jensen at the request of his attorney determined he has ongoing psychological problems and that "there is far more evidence that he is sick than that he is merely sinister."
Jensen's criminal history includes six controlled substance violations, two vehicular assaults, another second-degree robbery and a theft and possession of stolen property. His crimes were committed in either Benton County or Whatcom County.
Kennewick man's gifts of pot, cash thwarted
The search of a Kennewick apartment after the resident was reportedly seen inside smoking a bong allegedly turned up about 60 grams of packaged marijuana and Christmas cards with pot attached to bows.
Wesley Wayne Smith, 57, now is charged with possession with intent to manufactureor deliver marijuana. He pleaded innocent and faces trial March 7.
Police reportedly were walking through a Cleveland Street apartment complex on Dec. 24 when they noticed Smith "inside his apartment with his drapes open smoking from a bong," court documents said. The officers approached the apartment and could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside. The smell "grew stronger" when Smith answered their knock at the front door, documents said.
Smith reportedly was asked if he had a medical marijuana card, and he responded that he did not. He was then detained and advised of his Miranda rights, while officers applied for a search warrant.
Once inside Smith's home, they found pot packaged for sale, packaging materials, a working digital scale and "four Christmas cards with the names of intended recipients done up with bows, each bow containing a quantity of marijuana and a quantity of cash exceeding $500," court documents said.
He allegedly claimed that all of the marijuana in the home belonged to him.
Smith posted $2,500 bail.
Man guilty of bringing boy, 15, to Tri-Cities for immoral purposes
A 27-year-old man was sentenced to 45 days in jail for bringing a teen boy to the Tri-Cities from Pennsylvania so the two could have a sexual relationship.
Travis R. Willis of Rich-land pleaded guilty to communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
Willis can do the jail time on work release or work crew if eligible. He had no felony history before this crime.
"Between March 23, 2010, and March 29, 2010, I engaged in electronic communications with a minor and those communications were of a sexual nature" in violation of state law, Willis wrote in his plea statement.
According to court documents, Willis and the 15-year-old boy -- who lives in a small Pennsylvania borough -- communicated through text messages about the victim coming for a visit in Washington. Willis purchased a bus ticket, then met the boy when he arrived, documents said.
When Richland police in May searched a computer that belonged to Willis, they allegedly found 29 images of child porn and 40 files of child erotica.
Willis is ordered to have no contact with the boy through 2015.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org