Youth sentenced in robbery

The junior high student who robbed a South Kitsap grocery store at knife-point has been sentenced as an adult to 42 months in prison.

Zachery Dean Nelson, who was a ninth grade student at Marcus Whitman Junior High, pleaded guilty to first-degree armed robbery.

On Jan. 11, Nelson and another Marcus Whitman student who was tried separately as a juvenile, entered Time Saver Grocery on Mile Hill Drive and threatened the clerk with a butcher knife. The two, who had their faces covered by sweatshirt hoods, bandannas and masks, cut the phone cord and ransacked the cash register and cigarette displays.

According to the restitution statement, the boys seized approximately $800 in cash and merchandise, including $200 worth of cigarettes.

The boys were arrested after police were contacted by a confidential informant who said he knew the two suspects and had been told, in detail, how they committed the robbery.

Nelson was charged as an adult, but the other boy, because he was only 15, was handled by the juvenile court system.

Witnesses also confirmed Nelson had been the principal in the crime — he was the one to cut the phone cord and steal the cigarettes and money.

“Any time a juvenile of 16 or 17 is charged with first-degree robbery, they’re automatically handled as an adult,” said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Casad.

Nelson had three convictions in 2001, on charges ranging from burglary to malicious mischief. He was sentenced well within the standard range of 36 to 48 and has been referred to the state Department of Corrections.

This does not mean, however, he will necessary be integrated with the adult prison population.

“That’s going to depend on the department of corrections,” Casad said. “Usually, they have a special section (for juveniles).”

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