Man gets 19 years for robbery

A man who participated in a frightening home-invasion robbery to retrieve a NASCAR racing jacket was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison.

Before sentencing, Eric F. Christensen, 38, of Everett, told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris, “I told them guys it was a bad idea. I’m sorry.”

Christensen is one of four men who was charged with robbery, burglary, assault, or kidnapping in the July 2004 invasion of a Marysville home and the terrorizing of a family.

He is the first to go to trial.

The man of the house was abducted, bound and put in his own van as two of the invaders drove away toward Granite Falls. The kidnapping was foiled when a Washington State Patrol trooper pursued the van after spotting it with a broken headlight.

Many household items were stolen from the home, including a valuable sports card collection and a NASCAR jacket signed by the late racing legend Dale Earnhardt. Neither the jacket nor the card collection were recovered, officials said.

A former neighbor left the jacket with the Marysville family. The former neighbor’s ex-wife asked her boyfriend to retrieve it for her, prosecutors allege.

The boyfriend allegedly recruited three men, including Christensen, to help. Christensen allegedly was promised some of the booty from the robbery as payment for his participation.

Christensen, who was left outside as a lookout, maintained he was not a willing participant in the caper, and that he actually tried to drive away after he was left alone.

Judge Farris initially found him guilty of six felonies. By the time the lawyers finished arguing on Friday, he was down to two robbery convictions and one for burglary.

The lawyers also argued about how to figure the sentencing range for Christensen.

Deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow asked for a 20-year term, the maximum penalty.

“This is the most invasive, frightening and terrorizing crime there is,” Darrow told the judge.

Defense lawyer Edward Gibson of Seattle asked for about 13 years behind bars for Christensen, saying his client is “appalled” at what happened.

He argued for proportionality and justice, saying a 20-year term is excessive and unjust.

Christensen was “clearly the least culpable of all the four,” Gibson said.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or

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