Two men will pay a steep price for two six-packs of beer – a total of 39 months of jail time for using a gun in the robbery of a Bellingham man, two Whatcom County judges ruled Thursday, Oct. 13.
On a Saturday in late January, a 42-year-old man was walking home with two six-packs of beer from the Whatcom Falls Mini Mart, 1480 Electric Ave., when a pickup stopped next to him around 4:30 p.m. A man jumped out of the passenger seat of the 2005 Chevy Colorado, aimed a loaded black semiautomatic pistol at the man, and demanded that he “relinquish his beer,” according to charging papers.
The direct quote was less eloquent.
“Give me your (expletive) beer!” said the robber, David Anthony Hogan, 24, according to the charges. So the man gave up his six cans of Miller High Life and six bottles of Deschutes beer. He called police and gave officers the Chevy’s license plate number.
The driver, David Alexander Figueroa Jr., 23, stopped by a medical marijuana store in the half-hour before police caught up to the Chevy at Britton Road and Northshore Drive. In the pickup officers found the beers, one of which had been opened, said the deputy prosecutor, Christopher Quinn.
Figueroa told police the gun belonged to him. He said Hogan pointed out the man, told him to pull over, and grabbed the gun. Then Hogan returned with the beers. Afterward Figueroa put the gun under the driver’s seat.
Hogan pleaded guilty on Feb. 18 to robbery in the first degree. He had misdemeanors on his record for theft, assault, and minor in possession of alcohol, but he had never been convicted of a felony as an adult. Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder ordered him to serve 36 months in prison, the standard under state sentencing guidelines.
His co-defendant’s attorney, Lee Grochmal, maintains that Figueroa wasn’t aware that Hogan intended to rob the man at gunpoint. Quinn said it’s indisputable that Figueroa chose to run from the scene of the crime.
Figueroa admitted guilt Thursday to lesser charges: theft in the first degree and unlawful carrying of a firearm. The standard sentence for his crimes is zero to 90 days behind bars. He had no criminal record. Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis asked if he had anything to say.
“Just that I made a bad judgment call, and I’m sorry for that,” he replied.
The judge approved a plea deal and sentenced Figueroa to three months. He can apply to serve that time through house arrest or other alternatives to jail.