March 7, 2009 in City

Robbery spree haunts clerks, prosecutor says

Two suspects plead innocent in crimes that police link to OxyContin addiction
Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer
 

The string of robberies in Spokane that ended with the arrest of a young couple one month ago left convenience store clerks and cash store employees so terrified that many quit their jobs and still fear the suspects, a prosecutor said Friday.

Zachary T. Allen, 19, and Kimberley A. Norman, 20, pleaded innocent in Spokane County Superior Court on Friday to charges related to a crime spree police say was driven by addiction to the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Both remain in Spokane County Jail, Allen on a $200,000 bond and Norman on a $50,000 bond, which Judge Maryann Moreno reduced from $100,000 at the request of defense lawyer Christian Phelps.

Calling the charges “through the roof” but noting Norman’s lack of a criminal record, Moreno ordered Norman to seek drug treatment and live with her parents, among other things, should she be released.

Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett had urged Moreno to maintain the bond and said victims in the crime spree supported that.

“The victims are still very frightened,” Sterett said.

Norman and Allen have been in jail since their arrests Feb. 6, accused in a string of holdups that began with robberies at the Northwest Food Mart on Jan. 8 and Jan. 11 and included four payday loan store robberies and a major OxyContin heist that prompted extra security at loan stores and Sheriff’s Office pharmacy patrols.

Allen, who police say wore a black ski mask and used a black handgun in the robberies, faces eight counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree attempted robbery, and one count of first-degree kidnapping for allegedly holding a clerk against her will while waiting for a time-release safe to open.

Norman, accused of driving the getaway car, faces seven counts of first-degree robbery as well as the other charges. Phelps said Friday that the gun used in the crimes was a BB gun.

Nathan K. Webb, 25, is accused of driving Allen’s getaway car in one of two Check Into Cash robberies Jan. 29. He pleaded innocent Friday to that charge, as well as two unrelated drug dealing charges involving Ecstasy and cocaine.

He posted a $50,000 bond following his arrest Feb. 10. Allen, dressed in a blue jail jumper with the collar popped, didn’t ask for a reduced bail through his lawyer, Jeremy Benson.

But Phelps’ request included a plea from Norman’s mother, who attended the arraignment with her husband, two daughters and Norman’s grandparents.

Describing her daughter as a hard worker who graduated from high school with honors, Norman’s mother said she’s committed to helping her with her drug problem. “I’m home 24/7 to be there for her and help her through this,” she said.

Norman had been living with Allen at his mother’s home near Nine Mile Falls for about a year before her arrest, Phelps said.

“It’s not a stretch to think that that was a bad association to begin with,” Phelps said.


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