Man receives suspended sentence in robbery at home

John T. Owen pleaded guilty to theft in connection with a robbery at a home in Walla Walla in June.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man who earlier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in connection with a robbery at a local home in June received a suspended jail sentence Monday afternoon in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

John T. Owen, 18, was sentenced to 180 days, with credit for 23 days he served before being released on bail. Judge Donald W. Schacht suspended the balance of the time, meaning that Owen won't have to serve the remaining 157 days if he successfully complies with provisions of probation for a year.

The sentence was recommended by the prosecution in an agreement with Owen, who pleaded guilty Aug. 2 to third-degree theft, a gross-misdemeanor. He had been charged with first-degree robbery, a felony, accusing him of using or threatening to use force when he stole a mini laptop computer from the home of Bruce Williams, 2252 Garrison St. But the charge was reduced because an initial police report incorrectly indicated Owen was armed with a knife.

Officials said he and co-defendant Katie A. Waite, 21, both of 511 Chase Ave., went to Williams' home about 7 a.m. June 5. Williams reportedly had met them four days earlier through a mutual friend.

Williams told police that Waite left the living room to go to the bathroom. When she didn't return in a timely fashion, Williams briefly left the room to check on her and discovered Owen handling his wallet when he returned. "Williams grabbed his wallet from Owen and said Owen was trying to keep the wallet from him," according to a police report filed in court.

Then Williams was distracted by Waite, who had returned to the room, and Owen grabbed Williams' mini laptop computer. Waite brandished a knife before both suspects ran out of the residence and left in a vehicle.

A witness provided the vehicle's license number and Owen and Waite were pulled over at Ninth Avenue and Poplar Street. A mini laptop was located in the vehicle. Also, police found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in a bag among Waite's possessions.

Waite pleaded guilty last month to second-degree robbery, possessing methamphetamine and possessing drug paraphernalia, and is serving a 10-month jail sentence.

In imposing Owen's sentence Monday, Schacht pointed out how senseless it was to participate in the crime.

"What you did was pretty stupid," Schacht told him. "Look what it accomplished. Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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