A former honors student from Rogers High School found herself before a judge Wednesday with no real way to explain why she put on a ski mask last summer, pointed a shotgun at four young men near Gonzaga University and demanded their money.
Superior Court Judge Ellen Clark said she struggled over what to do with 18-year-old Alyssa Anderson. The judge had taken home a pile of letters seeking leniency for the young woman, who used to spend Saturdays volunteering with youth at her local church.
In the end, Clark sentenced Anderson – who had no prior criminal record – to seven years in prison.
“Ms. Anderson, I just want to ask you a question that I hope you have asked yourself a thousand times by now,” Judge Clark said. “Why did this happen?”
“Like I said before, this is not who I am,” Anderson replied. “I was not my normal self. I did seek help. I know that was not a way of getting help. I understand that now.”
Anderson was originally charged with eight felonies in connection with the crime that occurred at about 1 a.m. June 26. However, Deputy Prosecutor Matt Duggan agreed to allow Anderson to plead guilty to the lesser charges of attempted robbery.
Her former boyfriend, Avery Loring, 19, allegedly hit one of the four victims in the head with a tire iron. He still faces four counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of second-degree assault, Assistant Public Defender Tom Krzyminksi said.
Don Scribner testified that his sons were two of the four men assaulted that night after spending the day at Hoop Fest. His 17-year-old son took the blow to the head.
“My wife and I went to the hospital, and my youngest son was covered in blood and his head was wrapped up. And the doctor said he was lucky,” Scribner said. “These four boys had a shotgun pointed at them, and at that point in their lives they didn’t know what was going to happen next.
“It was very disturbing for my family,” he continued. “It’s still disturbing.”
Krzyminski said Anderson was diagnosed with a mental disorder that was not fully explained in court. A doctor had prescribed her medicine, but her mother decided not to give it to her, Krzyminski said.
“It’s just tragic for everybody,” he said.
But Clark said the diagnosis wasn’t compelling enough to reduce the state-mandated range of sentencing.
“I know, Ms. Anderson, that your friends and family are scared for you,” Clark said. “I hope that you and they are equally scared for the four innocent men who did absolutely nothing but walk down a street one night.”
Clark pointed out that many of those who testified on Anderson’s behalf Wednesday said that she made a wrong choice or one bad mistake just like everybody else.
“That’s all true. But this isn’t stealing gum from 7-Eleven. This is pointing a gun at somebody’s face and telling them to give you all their money,” Clark said. “This is horrible.”
Clark said she appreciates that Anderson has the support from her church, community and family.
“These people have been with you, for you, behind you every step of the way,” Clark said. “You had everything good in life going for you, and you made this decision to commit this act.”