BELLINGHAM - A 4-year prison sentence awaits a burglar who beat up a Bellingham man, ran off with a backpack full of stolen goods, then told police he'd been framed.
Court records show a 50-year-old resident of the Sunnyland neighborhood came home to find his back door kicked in at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 9. The man walked inside and heard footsteps upstairs, so he called police. He stepped back outside and, while he was still on the line with 911, saw a 5-foot-9 man fleeing his property with a backpack.
The resident tackled the burglar, Jacob Edward-Gene Stout, 20, in the yard. Stout fought back: He punched, kicked and kneed the man, hitting him in the face and torso. (The victim didn't need immediate medical treatment.)
Stout broke free and took off running. But less than a minute later, a traffic officer, who had been patrolling a nearby school zone, caught the man in an alley. Stout gave a bogus story: The resident had called him over to the yard, thrown the backpack at him and accused him of stealing it. Then, Stout claimed, the man beat him up.
Police recovered $3,800 in stolen goods - among them, four sets of snowboard goggles, an avalanche beacon, an iPad, two iPods and prescription painkillers - from the backpack. A few items belonged to neighbors. According to prosecutors, two things in the pack actually belonged to Stout: a wallet and a little more than a gram of meth. Charges of drug possession and robbery were dropped in a plea bargain.
Officers found Stout had left behind a hatchet with a black and yellow handle in an upstairs bedroom.
Stout pleaded guilty last week in Whatcom County Superior Court to first-degree burglary and second-degree theft. He must serve four years in prison and pay $1,844 in restitution.
As a juvenile Stout was twice convicted of home burglary. He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to stealing a car stereo to support his heroin habit. For that crime, he received a two-month sentence.