A teenager convicted of killing the 79-year-old owner of a popular Puyallup corner store during a robbery, then fatally shooting his alleged accomplice on a grassy Commencement Bay beach, faced sentencing Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.
Robbrie Thompson, 16 at the time of the armed robbery and 19 now, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, below the standard sentencing range. During the hearing, Judge James Orlando said the sentence was below the standard range to avoid handing a juvenile offender what would essentially be a life sentence.
"I believe there are two people inside of Mr. Thompson," Orlando said in court. "There is one who can pretend the picture of being a concerned young man, somebody who could do well in school, who wants to involve themselves, who wants to apologize, but the bottom line is the only person that Mr. Thompson cares about is Mr. Thompson."
Defense attorneys had asked that Thompson receive 25 years, the minimum term for aggravated murder committed by people between the ages of 16 and 18.
A Pierce County jury in September found Thompson guilty of all eight charges against him. The charges stemmed from the April 27, 2019 armed robbery at the Handy Corner Store where Soon Ja Nam, who owned and operated it with her husband, was killed, and from the death of 16-year-old Franklin Thuo, who allegedly helped rob the store.
Thuo was found dead on the shore of Chinook Marina two days later with a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Prosecutors said Thompson killed Thuo over a fear that he would talk to authorities about Nam's death.
Jurors found Thompson guilty of two counts of first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Thompson's second charge, first-degree murder, was dismissed Friday to prevent the possibility of future double jeopardy, Orlando said.
During the hearing, prosecutors presented the facts of the crimes again, noting the steps Thompson took to avoid detection by police. Deputy prosecutor Brian Wasankari said Thompson turned off his phone before going to Puyallup, donned a mask and rubber gloves in Thuo's Nissan before the robbery and told people close to him not to talk about what happened over text because he knew the messages could find their way to the eyes of law enforcement.
"This is someone who planned crimes over the course of days, deliberated about them with a confidant, considered alternate courses of action and chose those that resulted in the deaths of two people, an elderly shopkeeper who posed no physical threat, and a 16-year-old boy who wound up face down on the beach," Wasankari said in court.
In the defense's response, attorney Paula Olsen argued that Thompson's age at the time of the crime, his upbringing which included some abuses by his father and his difficulties with mental health exhibited after the killings were factors that supported a shorter sentence.
In Thompson's address to the court, he apologized to the family's of the victims, but said that he did not commit the crimes. During his trial in September, Thompson testified that he wasn't the one who actually shot Nam. In regard to Thuo, he testified that he and others - who he wouldn't name - brought the teenager to Chinook Marina, and that one of those people actually killed Thuo.
Prosecutors pointed to the fact that after the deadly robbery, Thompson talked with a confidant at length, asking her repeatedly whether he should kill Thuo to prevent him from "ratting on him." Thompson also searched online for "where is the best place to shoot someone" before turning off his cell phone for about 90 minutes, prosecutors said.
When Thuo's body was found, he was missing his white Adidas Yeezy sneakers, which are retailed for $360. During Friday's hearing, prosecutors played brief videos showing Thompson modeling the same shoes on Snapchat after Thuo was killed.