Sirens & Gavels

THURSDAY, OCT. 1, 2009, 6:14 P.M.

Courthouse watch: 10.1.09

A man who robbed a pharmacy of OxyContin will spend nine months in jail.

Tom E. Snell, 24, will be on probation for a year after he's released on a second-degree robbery conviction. Snell pleaded guilty to the charge Thursday, which was amended from first-degree robbery because he never displayed a weapon when he robbed the Rite Aid drugstore at 29th Avenue and Regal Street on July 6.

Snell had no prior felony convictions when he handed an employee a note saying "Don't be stupid. Hurry up. I have a gun," according to court documents.

Snell apologized Thursday.

"The root of my problems is my addiction," he said.

Snell, a Lakeside High School graduate, told Judge Maryann Moreno he got addicted to drugs while a student at Eastern Washington University.

A construction worker and a tipster led police to identify Snell as the robber. The worker identified the robber's getaway car as a blue Toyota pickup, and a tip based on a news report led police to 7th Avenue and Adams Street.

There, they found a truck matching the description from the robbery. It was registered to Snell in Nine Mile Falls, according to a search warrant. He was arrested July 10 when he reported for work as an installation technician for Comcast.

Before he was sentenced, Snell told Moreno he thought nine months was "excessive." Moreno let him know that pharmacy robbers often end up in prison for more than three years and that he was lucky his case allowed him a second-degree robbery charge instead of first.

"Count your blessings," she told him.

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