One crime, two very different punishments for Everett teens

Two young men went on an armed robbery spree. One was sentenced to seven years in prison. The other, zero.

EVERETT — Two teens went on the same armed robbery spree in south Everett.

One is serving a prison sentence of seven years.

The other was sentenced to 10 years of probation, with no time behind bars.

“It shows you how unfair the system can be,” said Oscar Corona-Medina’s public defender, David Roberson. “When presented with the same facts, two different judges can make two completely different decisions. The courts shouldn’t be that way.”

Corona-Medina and Chase Alexander, both then 19, pointed guns at four strangers in separate parked cars, demanding valuables over the course of about three hours in September 2018, according to court papers.

Both were charged with three counts of first-degree robbery and one count of attempted robbery.

Each young man claimed the spree was the other’s idea. In both cases, the charges brought by prosecutors were virtually the same.

Alexander hired a private defense attorney.

Corona-Medina was assigned a public defender.

Alexander posted $25,000 bail.

Corona-Medina struggled to come up with $100,000 in bond.

The young men had different prosecutors.

They were sentenced, in hearings two years apart, by different judges.

The spree

Around 3:40 a.m. Sept. 24, 2018, Alexander and Corona-Medina — in dark clothes, masks and gloves — got out of a dark Chevy Trailblazer and approached a car in the Anytime Fitness parking lot off 132nd Street SE in Everett, according to charging papers. They pointed realistic-looking BB guns at the occupant and demanded a laptop, cellphone and watch, the man reported to police.

A couple of hours later, around 5:30 a.m., a man in south Everett was waiting for his car to warm up outside a Fred Meyer when he saw a Trailblazer park near his car.

He heard a tap on his window, so he rolled it down halfway to see what the two teenagers outside wanted. Alexander and Corona-Medina brandished their guns, pressed a kitchen knife to the man’s throat, then seized the man’s wallet and cellphone, he told police.

Two miles away, in the Burlington Coat Factory parking lot, a woman sat in her car waiting to go to work. A young man got out of an SUV and approached her window at about 5:50 a.m., she told police. He was asking her for directions to I-5 when she saw a second young man exit the SUV. The teen asking for directions then pulled out a black handgun, pointed it at her head and demanded her wallet and phone.

The pair fled in the SUV.

About an hour later, they attempted to rob a fourth stranger in the Everett Costco parking lot. That heist was thwarted when one of their guns made contact with the car’s window and made an obvious plastic sound, a woman told police.

The woman told the two young men she knew their guns were fake. She said they pulled down their masks, said it was all a prank and left.

One of the victims pinged his stolen phone, and police located the Trailblazer outside Alexander’s home. Both teens were arrested.

The system

Bail was set at $25,000 for both young men in Everett District Court.

Alexander posted that amount.

Corona-Medina’s bail was raised to $100,000 at arraignment. At 19, he didn’t have that kind of money.

One teen being in custody and one being out of jail influenced the differing outcomes, said Alexander’s attorney, Samantha Sommerman, of Mazzone Law.

Corona-Medina’s case resolved relatively fast as he sat behind bars. He pleaded guilty as charged in December 2018.

State guidelines suggested prison time within a range of 6½ to 8½ years. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas handed down a sentence near the middle of that range, in early 2019.

Corona-Medina has now served two years behind bars. His attorney said last week he was surprised to learn Alexander wasn’t sentenced to any time in prison, given his co-defendant’s sentence.

“It’s just two different judges — one that accepts the science about youthful criminal behaviors, and one that didn’t,” Roberson said. “Judge Lucas didn’t give it any weight.”

Alexander’s family also had money to hire a lawyer. His defense compiled a 64-page memorandum with psychological reports, character references and letters of support from family members.

“He would be quick to ask me if I needed help with carrying in groceries or other tasks when my own kids didn’t!” wrote a neighbor, whose son was close friends with Alexander.

“Putting together a package like the one we presented takes time. It takes effort,” Sommerman said. “That work is easier to do when your client is out of custody.”

Both Sommerman and Roberson said they believe Corona-Medina would be a good candidate for a resentencing petition, under a new state law that passed in 2020.

“I can tell you this (kind of unequal justice) is the part of the system that is terrible, in my opinion,” Sommerman said.

The consequences

At Corona-Medina’s sentencing in 2019, nobody spoke on his behalf.

In contrast, more than 15 family members and friends filed into the courtroom last Monday afternoon to show support for Alexander, now 21, at his sentencing hearing.

A psychological examination by a defense expert indicated Alexander “tends to be impulsive, unsophisticated and immature in his social reasoning, judgment and decision-making skills. It is likely that these factors played a significant role in his behavior that night.”

The report also gave Alexander’s version of the crimes. He stated he was hallucinating on drugs that morning, seeing “waves of colors.”

Four family members fought tears as they addressed Superior Court Judge Jennifer Langbehn, urging her to be sympathetic.

“This young man made a damaging mistake — he was wrong,” said Joshua Kline, the defendant’s uncle. “But I’m begging you to see that sending a young man like Chase to prison will have no good, whatsoever, come out of it.”

The judge agreed, noting Alexander put himself in danger, too.

Langbehn advised Alexander “not to punish yourself, not to keep yourself in the prison of grief and remorse that your uncle referred to, but to help you as you move forward, as you move out of the home of your parents, out of the arms of those who are with you here today, and have to make more decisions for yourself.”

The judge ordered Alexander to serve 10 years on probation. He will be subject to random drug tests and other restrictions.

The defendant has “walked the path of the straight and narrow” ever since that morning, according to a memorandum from his attorney.

Alexander, a 2018 graduate of Henry M. Jackson High School, received a degree from Montana State University in 2020, while out on bail. He now works as a welder with Travis Industries, according to court documents.

Sommerman noted he had no criminal history until 2018.

“I think you can tell that Chase is a kind and good kid who is not very bright,” Sommerman said in court.

Deputy prosecutor Tyler Scott said in an interview Friday that such a large disparity in sentences was “unusual.” He maintained that both young men deserved years behind bars, within the state standard.

“One of the glaring differences,” Scott said, “is that one had a public defender, and one had a private attorney.”

Immaturity, Sommerman argued, prevented Alexander from knowing the wrongfulness of his actions. She said he was induced to commit the crimes by Corona-Medina.

Corona-Medina’s attorney argued it was actually Alexander who persuaded the other teen robber.

Corona-Medina had no criminal record before the arrest, too.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett gets state Auditor’s Office stewardship award

State Auditor Pat McCarthy presented the award during the most recent Everett City Council meeting.

Representative Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen to hold community meeting in Everett on Monday

The veteran Democratic lawmaker will address recent legislation passed by Congress and other topics.

King County map logo
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish again due to Bolt Creek fire

A 1-mile stretch of U.S. 2 was closed in both… Continue reading

FILE - Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks during a news conference the vote to codify Roe v. Wade, in this May 5, 2022 file photo on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murray is one of the U.S. Senate's most powerful members and seeking a sixth term. She is being challenged by Tiffany Smiley, a Republican from Pasco, Wash. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Providence continues to face questions about hospital debt collection

The hospital group has pushed back against the notion that Providence “intentionally takes advantage of those who are vulnerable.”

Officers working in North Everett located and arrested the suspect from a June 20 shooting that left two dead and one injured in the 2000 block of Lexington. (Everett Police Department)
Everett triple shooting suspect tied to another homicide

A search warrant points to Shayne Baker, 26, as the suspect in the killing of Scott Pullen at a storage facility in Everett.

People gather outside of the new Northwest Carpenters Institute building prior to a grand opening celebration Thursday, Sep. 29, 2022, in Burlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Building a workforce: Northwest Carpenters expand training center

About 160 Snohomish County tradespeople take the apprentice classes in Burlington center. There’s ample room to grow.

A Coast Guard cutter searches for a crashed chartered floatplane near Mutiny Bay Monday afternoon in Freeland, Washington on September 5, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
5 more bodies recovered from floatplane crash off Whidbey

About 80% of the plane, including the engine, was recovered using remotely operated vessels.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Police: Student, 15, arrested with loaded gun at Edmonds high school

Around 1 p.m., students reported a classmate with a gun at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Carolanne Warren directs her mother through the ruts on Mt. Pilchuck Road Wednesday afternoon in Granite Falls, Washington on September 7, 2022.   (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To get to iconic Pilchuck lookout, hikers must brave ‘hell on wheels’

Mount Pilchuck is one of the most beloved hikes in the region. The 7-mile pothole-riddled road to get there? Not so much.

Most Read