Winchester sentenced to 20 years for Lynden attempted robbery that killed son

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 15, 2012 

The man who set up an attempted drug deal and robbery that led to a fatal shootout in a Lynden home last fall was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday, May 15.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder told Jeremiah Winchester there was no one else to blame but himself for the tragic outcome of the events that he set in motion.

On Nov. 22, Winchester set up a drug deal to buy heroin from a man who was known to be armed, with the intention of robbing him of cash and drugs. But when the dealers arrived, things went wrong quickly. Winchester, 41, was shot in the face, and his son, Jesse Winchester, 22, was shot and killed. The people suspected of shooting Jesse Winchester fled to Mexico and have yet to be found.

"You have brought this all on yourself through your own actions, and you are being sentenced for those actions today," Snyder said.

In April, a jury found Winchester guilty of attempted possession of heroin, first-degree attempted robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Jesse Winchester's longtime girlfriend, Rachel Hardman, spoke to the court Tuesday to describe a man with a huge heart who was taken away by the poor decisions and selfishness of his father.

When given the chance to speak, Jeremiah Winchester broke into tears as he told the court that he'd lost everything.

Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran had argued for the exceptional sentence of 20 years in part because of Winchester's extensive criminal history - 16 felony convictions over 18 years, including his convictions for this case.

"When you look at a man who's had 16 felonies, I think that society has had enough," McEachran told the court.

Reach ZOE FRALEY at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2803.

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