By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — Todd Kirkpatrick’s wife and children on Thursday painted a different picture of the man known publicly as the “Phony Pony Bandit,” a prolific bank robber who was shot by police last year outside a Stanwood bank.
The family told Superior Court Judge Anita Farris that Kirkpatrick, 56, is a caring husband and father, who taught his children the value of hard work. For years, he fished in Alaska to provide for his family. He built their home from the ground up. His children credit their dad for their own successes, saying he worked tirelessly to give them more than he ever had.
His family on Thursday watched as Kirkpatrick was sentenced to 17 years in prison for four bank heists. The Anacortes man spent the summer of 2012 ripping off banks while wearing a disguise that included a bad wig pulled back into a ponytail. Kirkpatrick was armed with a handgun when, in a span of weeks, he pocketed more than $20,000 from banks in three different counties.
“This is a unique case, Your Honor. What you have is a cocktail of losing of a lot of money, depression, alcohol and pride,” Everett defense attorney Phil Sayles said.
Records show that Kirkpatrick had been an aspiring developer in Anacortes, buying up waterfront property and making plans to build a cul-de-sac of homes overlooking Burrows Bay. Then came the collapse of the housing boom.
“He lost all of the money he invested in the land and from there his life and actions started spiraling out of control,” Sayles wrote.
His client began drinking heavily. His pride kept him from reaching out to his family for help, Sayles said.
Kirkpatrick robbed his first bank in July 2012. He returned to the Bellingham bank a month later and made off with more cash.
He then tried to rob the Washington Federal bank in La Conner in August 2012. Employees there were able to remotely lock the bank door before the robber entered. Two days later, the “Phony Pony Bandit” robbed $4,000 from the Skagit State Bank in Mount Vernon.
Kirkpatrick on Thursday spoke about the fear he saw on teller’s face in Mount Vernon.
“I’d like to apologize to the victims I terrorized,” he said.
Two of the women attended Thursday’s hearing.
Kirkpatrick was in the middle of robbing a Stanwood KeyBank on Sept. 25, 2012, when he spotted a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy outside. The deputy was patrolling the strip mall in response to a series of other robberies in the area. Kirkpatrick, armed with a handgun, stepped outside, where he was confronted by the deputy.
Kirkpatrick ran toward the Haggen grocery store across the street. The deputy followed, ordering Kirkpatrick to the ground. The suspect pointed his gun at the deputy, who fired his weapon in response.
Kirkpatrick was struck multiple times.
At the scene, investigators seized a long black wig, sunglasses, a white T-shirt, black sweatshirt, coat and blue jeans. They found $5,850 wadded up in the pocket of Kirkpatrick’s blood-soaked jeans. They found a police scanner with an earphone clipped to the man’s belt. They also found a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol near the suspect. The gun was not loaded.
Kirkpatrick pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree assault. He faced up to 20 years in prison. Farris on Thursday said given Kirkpatrick’s age and his lack of any prior felony criminal history she believed a low-end sentence was sufficient.
Nearly half of Kirkpatrick’s sentence is attributed to the firearms enhancements added to two of his charges. Under the state’s “hard time for armed crime” law he must serve every day of that time without any credit for good behavior.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.