Armed robbery yields prison term for Mountlake Terrace man

EVERETT — Frank Djoko got a second chance last year.

The Mountlake Terrace man, 21, found himself accused of an armed robbery he insisted he didn’t commit.

Djoko’s public defender took seriously his claims of innocence. On the eve of trial late last year, the lawyer was able to present prosecutors with a solid alibi for Djoko. The evidence, confirmed by detectives, ultimately led to the case being dismissed.

Djoko had been facing a long stretch in prison if convicted. Instead of celebrating his freedom, however, in March he joined another young man in arranging a drug deal using social media. He and his accomplice turned that meet-up into a robbery at gunpoint.

Djoko on Thursday was sentenced to 2½ years in prison. An immigrant from the central African country of Cameroon, he almost certainly faces deportation after serving his time behind bars, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson was told.

Djoko’s conduct has brought consequences, the judge said, but he also told the young man he’s fortunate.

“The fact of the matter is we are just lucky that no one was killed,” he said.

Djoko pleaded guilty Aug. 23 to first-degree robbery for his role in the March holdup. He and an accomplice had arranged to buy some marijuana, but when the dealers showed up in Lynnwood, they wound up facing a handgun.

It was Djoko’s co-defendant who reportedly pulled the weapon from his waistband and said, “This is when (expletive) gets serious.”

The take in the robbery was a backpack filled with marijuana, plus a cellphone. The loot and the firearm were found after police tracked the robbers to a Lynnwood home.

Wilson said the robbery was incredibly dangerous, and he noted that people have been shot and killed while engaged in similar conduct. Djoko had nothing to say for himself when given the chance.

The judge said he could see the intelligence in the young man’s eyes. He urged him to do better, wherever life takes him now.

“It’s up to you,” Wilson said.

Djoko earlier had been charged with a May 2016 home-invasion robbery in Everett. He was accused of being one of the robbers who approached a man while he was working in his home garage and pressed a gun to the victim’s head. The robbers took about $100 from his wallet and a PlayStation 4.

Djoko was accused in that case after police received a tip, and some Facebook sleuthing by the victim’s son led to an identification.

The case was dismissed in December after Djoko’s public defender provided prosecutors with the alibi evidence.

Everett police investigated the claim and confirmed the “Frankie” from the May 2016 holdup team couldn’t have been Djoko.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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