First defendant in home invasion found guilty

A judge convicted an Everett man Wednesday of six felony charges, ruling that he willingly went along on a robbery and home invasion July 27.

Eric F. Christensen, 38, could be get up to 44 years behind bars, depending on what Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris decides.

Christensen went to trial on 11 counts after several men burst into a house, terrorized a Marysville-area family, stole a NASCAR racing jacket and kidnapped a man in the house. The kidnapping was thwarted after a state trooper spotted a headlight out on a van, stopped it and found the kidnap victim inside bound in duct tape.

Christensen was the first of four men accused in the crime to go to trial. He waived a jury trial, and Farris heard the case earlier this month.

On Wednesday, she ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove that Christensen knew about the kidnapping and four assaults on family members. According to testimony and his statements to police, Christensen didn’t enter the house. He stayed in a car the others used to drive to the victims’ house.

Farris acquitted him of charges of assault and kidnapping, but found him guilty of four counts of first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery, ruling that he knew the others intended to burst into the house and steal items. In addition, she found that deadly weapons were used in all the burglaries and robberies. Sentencing is scheduled Feb. 2.

Each of the burglary and robbery charges carries an extra five years in prison because a firearm was used. Deputy prosecuting attorney Erica Temple wants those five-year terms to run consecutively, in this case 30 years, just for the firearm allegations. She calculates the normal sentencing range is at least 10 additional years.

Guss Markwell, Christensen’s defense attorney, wasn’t so sure.

Markwell questioned whether the sentences should run consecutively. He is expected to argue for a much shorter sentence after he researches the law.

Others involved in the crime might have planned the robbery and kidnapping, Markwell said, but “this wasn’t what (Christensen) was trying to do. Unfortunately, (the others) were. The way the judge viewed it, he got roped in with the same net.”

Farris said she wants to hear arguments on whether or not the sentences should be consecutive.

The three other defendants are scheduled for trial later.

Prosecutors alleged that the four men went after valuables and a racing jacket signed by legendary driver Dale Ernhardt. According to court documents, a former neighbor left the jacket and other items with the homeowner .

The neighbor’s ex-wife allegedly asked her boyfriend to retrieve the jacket, documents say. He allegedly recruited Christensen and two others to help with the robbery.

The woman was arrested and charged in the summer, but prosecutors later dismissed the charges against her.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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