August 21, 2009 in City

Robber cites OxyContin addiction

24-year-old father pleads guilty; attorney held at knifepoint in drug robbery wishes him well
By The Spokesman-Review

On the Web

Read previous coverage of OxyContin robberies at

A 24-year-old man told a judge Thursday that his life changed quickly and dramatically: He went from living with his girlfriend and their 7-year-old daughter to putting a knife to a man’s throat to get a pharmacist to hand over a bag of OxyContin pills.

“How did you get to this point?” Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno asked Michael A. Miller.

“I wish I could tell you. It happened so fast,” replied Miller, who pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon. “The addiction really blindsided me. The next thing I knew, I had nothing.”

The man he pulled the knife on was defense lawyer John R. Clark, a past president of the Spokane County Bar Association and the husband of Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark.

“I’ve got kids his age. This is so sad,” said John Clark said, who was in the courtroom Thursday. “I’m so sorry to see a young man’s life take this course. It’s the scourge of OxyContin.”

Clark was shopping Jan. 14 at the Walgreens at 2702 N. Argonne Road when someone approached him from behind as he waited at the pharmacy counter. Clark said he thought it was a buddy putting him in a bear hug, until he saw the knife.

As he held the knife to Clark’s neck, Miller ordered the pharmacist to hand over all the OxyContin and methadone. The pharmacist opened the safe and gave Miller more than $3,000 worth of OxyContin. Miller released Clark and fled, according to court documents.

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies found Miller’s fingerprints on the pharmacy’s door. As part of the plea deal, and as requested by Clark, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz dropped a charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Though Miller had no criminal history, his guilty plea to first-degree robbery with a weapons enhancement likely will keep him in prison for four years.

In court, Miller apologized to Clark and the pharmacist. “I’m accepting full responsibility for what I’ve done, but that addiction is stronger than anything you will ever know,” Miller told Moreno.

Clark also spoke on behalf of the young man. “I knew he wasn’t going to hurt me,” Clark said. “There is a spot for him back in the community. I don’t wish him any harm. I know he is going to get through this.”

Clark wished Miller good luck as a jailer placed him in handcuffs for the short walk back to jail.

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