BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham burglar who armed himself with a squirt gun loaded with semen must serve 1 1/2 years in prison.
Eric Michael Miller, 21, and two other men tied bandanas over their faces on the evening of Jan. 18 and broke into an apartment in the 900 block of High Street.
A man sleeping on the couch awoke to find two men pinning him down and beating him. Aiming handguns at him, they demanded to know where the sleeper's roommate had gone, because he owed them money, "possibly for drugs," according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. They held knives to his throat and hairline.
Throughout the assault the man lost consciousness several times. But at one point, he caught a glimpse of Miller's face under the mask. He recognized him. Miller pistol-whipped him with a real handgun, according to the charges. Then he took out a squirt gun and sprayed the man in the face.
"Now you're like the rest of my (expletives), covered in semen," Miller said, according to court records.
Miller took the man's money and wallet, according to prosecutors. A witness reported seeing four men running from the scene. Police showed up to find the unit unlocked, ransacked and full of overturned furniture. Nobody was home.
A few minutes later the victim - a man who had past run-ins with the law - called police from Ferndale. He claimed he feared the men might come back, so he'd fled.
Officers recovered a bandana and a squirt gun from the scene. A substance in the gun tested positive for semen.
Miller turned himself in to police within two weeks. Deputy Prosecutor Jim Hulbert considered filing charges of first-degree burglary with a sexual motivation.
But prosecutors didn't feel they could prove he got any sexual gratification out of spraying the man. Instead, Hulbert said, it seemed to be more about humiliating him.
Miller pleaded guilty Thursday morning, March 21, to first-degree burglary, a class A felony. He declined to address the court. Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced him to 18 months behind bars.
Miller had no criminal history. Nobody else has been arrested in connection with the burglary.