Apologetic robber of Ferndale gas station sentenced to prison

A man who apologized to a Ferndale gas station clerk during an armed robbery must serve three years and five months in prison, a Whatcom County judge ruled Thursday, Aug. 4.

Jacob Taylor Winkle wore a gray-and-black Rastafarian-style beanie when he walked into an AM/PM at 1197 Slater Road around 8 p.m. April 21. He looked around the store to make sure no one else was inside. Winkle grabbed some candy and put it on the counter, according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Winkle, 21, pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and told the clerk, Kevin Doucette, 28, that he wanted the candy and “all the money in the register.”

Winkle tucked the gun into his jacket and ran outside with a few hundred dollars in cash.

“Hey, man, I’m really, really sorry about this, but sometimes things happen,” Winkle said as he fled, according to Doucette.

A witness outside noticed the clerk holding up his hands, and snapped a photo of a truck the robber was fleeing in: a black extended cab Chevy pickup with a canopy and a white sticker on the back window.

A Ferndale police officer spotted the truck headed east on West Smith Road. About 10 minutes after the robbery, Winkle was pulled over at gunpoint on Belfern Drive, about 1 1/2 miles north of the gas station. He confessed that night, police said.

Winkle pleaded guilty Thursday to robbery in the first degree. Under state sentencing guidelines the crime carries a standard prison term of 31 to 41 months for someone, like Winkle, with no criminal record.

The defendant made no statement to the judge at a sentencing hearing. His attorney, Doug Hyldahl, told the court Winkle was addicted to heroin at the time and desperate for money to support his habit. Winkle, a resident of Des Moines, told police he’d been staying with family in the area.

Judge Ira Uhrig sentenced Winkle to 41 months, as suggested by the plea deal.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb